As the 2017-18 school year is winding down, we are getting to the postseason territory. Cal Athletics is still seeking the first team national title of the school year after Rugby 15s were defeated in national championships last Saturday by Life. While Rugby 7s and both men’s and women’s rowing are the next best bets to win national championships, both of my dark horses teams for this school year are in action this coming week - No.3 Women’s Water Polo will compete in the NCAA national championship this weekend while Men’s Golf will be competing in the Raleigh Regional next Monday-Wednesday.
NCAA Quarterfinal: Cal Women’s Water Polo vs. Michigan - 5:15 pm PT on Friday
Achieving the top rank in the country for only the 2nd time in program history, Cal Women’s Water Polo has had a special year, despite a bit of disappointment late in the year. With superstar Dora Antal, the program’s all-time leading scorer, in her final season, can she and the Cal team win the program’s first NCAA national championship?
The path to the NCAA title (just 3 wins away) start today for the Bears with the quarterfinal match against the Michigan Wolverines. The NCAA championships this year is hosted by USC down in LA.
California Golden Bears (19-5) is considered a heavy favorite over the Michigan Wolverines (32-8). The two sides have met once during the Stanford Invitational back on February 3rd with the Bears victories by a slim 11 to 10 margin. Bears trailed early in that one and had to hold off a late Wolverine rally (they only got two goals to get within one).
Should the Bears win as expected, we will have an additional post (with more details on this year’s team) tomorrow for the NCAA semifinal match vs. Stanford (most likely). I hope to also have a post on Sunday for the NCAA championship vs. the winner of USC/UCLA (most likely).
All of the postseason matches will be streamed for free on the NCAA.com website.
NCAA 1st Round: Cal Men’s Tennis vs. NC State (from Austin, Texas) - 11 am PT on Friday
For the 19th consecutive year, Cal Men’s Tennis is back in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, this year’s squad did not earn one of the top 16 seed to host the first two rounds. Instead, they will have a tough road to survive the Texas Regional this weekend. Of course, given the talent on the squad, I would not be completely shocked if the Golden Bears somehow find a way to survive and advance out of this weekend.
First up for the Bears are the NC State Wolfpack. The 34th ranked Bears are officially the underdog to the 24th ranked Wolfpack but this match could be a toss-up. The winner will play the winner between host (and 12th seed) Texas and Bryant on Saturday.
In college tennis, the three doubles match (one set played to 6, no ads scoring) will be played first to determine the doubles point. Then the 6 singles matches will be played simultaneously with each match (best of 3 sets) counting for one point. First team to accumulate 4 points will win and advance.
NC State has two ranked singles players (No.43 and No.120) and two ranked doubles teams (No.57 and No.69). For the Bears, only senior Billy Griffith is ranked (No.54); he and fellow senior JT Nishimura are ranked No.33 in doubles. The rest of the Cal squad consists of freshmen who may lack consistency but do not lack talent. It’s time for the Cal youth to mature and shock the college tennis world!
NCAA Regional Result: Cal Women’s Golf finished 12th, senior Marthe Wold tied for 3rd and will advance to NCAA championship as an individual
Playing in the nearby San Francisco (TPC Harding Park) earlier this week, Cal Women’s Golf did not quite have the depth to be competitive in the team race (only the top 6 advances to the NCAA championships). The 12th seed in the regional finished according to the seed.
Nonetheless, Cal’s Norwegian senior Marthe Wold managed three rounds all under par for -6 in the tournament. That was good for a tie for 3rd and give her one of the three individual spots to the NCAA championships for the top finishers whose team did not qualify. Consequently, the Cal senior will lengthen her collegiate career (which she apparently was NOT thinking about during this regional).
Here is Marthe talking about her week.
Marthe after stepping off the 18th ⛳️— Cal Women's Golf (@CalWGolf) May 10, 2018
Book her ✈️ to Stillwater, Oklahoma! pic.twitter.com/fSW4JGaU7A
Cal made the NCAA championship as a team last year. Two years ago, freshman Marianne Li made the NCAA championship as an individual.
The 2018 NCAA championship will take place from Stillwater, Oklahoma on May 18th-23rd at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
12. California +15 (297+292+290=879)
INDIVIDUAL (Par -72)
t3. Marthe Wold -6 (71+70+69=210)
t33. Marianne Li +3 (75+74+70=219)
t40. Cindy Oh +5 (74+72+75=221)
t77. Jiyoon Jang +13 (77+76+76=229)
t95. Sofia Lundell +27 (82+79+82=243)
Cal Men’s Golf at NCAA Raleigh Regional - Monday to Wednesday
After winning 3 of 11 events in 2017-18, Cal Men’s Golf is set to make this spring special - the program is seeking a 2nd NCAA team title in history. The action will start from the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, North Carolina early next week.
While the Bears have yet to announce the lineup, it will likely be the same 6 players as for the Pac-12 championships. 5 of the 6 Cal players (Collin Morikawa, Ben Doyle, Finigan Tilly, KK Limbhasut, Sebastian Crampton and Kaiwen Liu) will represent the team (where the top 4 of the 5 scores per round will count for the team total) with the 6th player playing as an individual.
The first 4 spots on the roster will go to the following 4 players:
Last and absolutely, certainly not least our second @pac12 all-conference first teamer is ... you know who he is ... #CollinMorikawa #GoBears #Pac12MGolf #NCAAGolf. Dude brings home the hardware pic.twitter.com/9vDF20GpBP— Cal Men's Golf (@CalMensGolf) May 4, 2018
On the 3-men short list for the Ben Hogan award (best amateur player in the country), Collin Morikawa is clearly the most steady player for the Golden Bears. Last year, Collin played at the NCAA Regional as an individual and fell just short of advancing to the NCAA championships.
Who was on the @pac12 all-conference first team you ask? Well, we had two with both being honored for the second time in their career. First up is @kklimbhasut. #GoBears #Pac12MGolf #NCAAGolf pic.twitter.com/1dgupxatcH— Cal Men's Golf (@CalMensGolf) May 4, 2018
Why is this year’s team so much better than last year? KK Limbhasut is back after taking a redshirt year to focus on his academics last year. Limbhasut will join Morikawa in the amateur version of the Ryder cup in the Arnold Palmer Cup this summer - though the two Cal teammates will be on opposing sides; Morikawa will represent USA while Liimbhasut (with this Thai heritage) will represent the World team.
Sebastian Crampton is another big time player who took last year off (the third player who did that what Cheatham who is unfortunately injured right now). He is another guy very capable of catching fire and win any tournament.
Our very own @CoachWalterC highlighted our @pac12 honorees today but he wasn't the only one the conference recognized. First up, Kaiwen Liu was an honorable mention All-Freshman selection. #GoBears #Pac12Golf #NCAAGolf pic.twitter.com/Zjoy5kmVnM— Cal Men's Golf (@CalMensGolf) May 4, 2018
Of course, the Cal Men’s Golf program continues to reload with top freshmen talent every year. Kaiwen Liu is latest Cal star freshman.
No matter how the roster is decided, Cal is a favorite to finish in the top 5 at this regional to advance to the NCAA national championships (May 25th-30th) from Stillwater, Oklahoma (the top individual not on the top 5 team will also advance). Golden Bears, ranked 9th in the country, are the 2nd seed in this regional behind Georgia Tech, ranked 4th in the country.
You can find the Live Stats to this meet here.
Cal Women’s Tennis to have 3 individuals in NCAA singles championship
While the season is over for Cal Women’s Tennis as a team after they missed out on the 64 team postseason field, three Golden Bears will be traveling to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC on May 23rd-28th for the NCAA singles championships.
Junior Olivia Hauger and freshmen Julia Rosenqvist and Anna Bright have made the field of 64 singles championship. While Hauger has been a veteran in the team part of the NCAA in the past two seasons, this will be her first individual NCAA championship experience; obviously, the same is true for the two Cal freshmen.
Rosenqvist (ranked 38th, 13-9 in singles), Bright (ranked 42nd, 35-9 in singles), and Hauger (ranked 47th, 24-7 in singles) are the top 3 players for the Golden Bears in 2018 in this listed order.
The Cal trio also earned All Pac-12 honors with Rosenqvist getting 1st team, Bright getting 2nd team, and Hauger getting honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. Julia Rosenqvist, from Sweden, has only been on the Cal campus for the spring semester. Anna Bright was the top ranked recruit domestically last year. Both have had some big upset wins but also losses to lesser ranked players this year. Hauger, more of a counterpunching player, has slowly ascend the Cal singles rotation in her 3 years on campus.
It is great to see the three Bears getting more seasoning in a tough rebuilding year. It is interesting to see how differently some of these college tennis players perform in team vs. individual format. All three players are capable of making a deep run in the NCAA individual tournament despite none of them having a high seed (and the corresponding easy path to the later rounds).