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Golden Medals: Postseason outlooks for Cal fall Olympic sports

Cross Country Pac-12 Championships are today (November 1st)

Cal Women’s Soccer should be back in the NCAA postseason after one year absence
Cal Women’s Soccer Twitter

As the calendar turns to November today, it is the all important final stretch for numerous Cal Fall Olympic sports. Where do things stand currently for the Golden Bears as to postseason?

Both women’s and men’s soccer as well as volleyball have home matches this weekend in Berkeley. This may be your last chances to see them in Bear Territory this season!

Postseason Bound:

Cal Volleyball (17-3, 7-3 in Pac-12)

I guess I may have jinxed Cal Volleyball with my post last week praising them for being in first place in the always tough Pac-12 conference near the midpoint of the season. Golden Bears dropped a pair of hard fought 4 setters down in LA to officially drop to 2nd place in the conference, one game behind Stanford, at the official midway point of conference play. Nonetheless, the 20th ranked Cal Bears have already done enough to be back in the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2014.

Bears do have plenty to play for in the 2nd half of conference play beyond just a shot at the conference title. Golden Bears need to rise back up to the top 16 to likely earn a shot to host the first two rounds of the NCAA postseason. After the LA losses, Bears are now at No.23 in the country via the RPI.

Without those extra home matches, Cal will be making their next-to-last homestand this weekend against the Oregon schools. Cal fans should not miss these opportunities to see this really fun squad do work. Bears were able to sweep all 6 sets up in Oregon earlier this season.

Cal Women’s Soccer (12-3-3, 4-2-3 in Pac-12)

While this season saw the Golden Bears earning tough wins over both USC and UCLA, Cal simply dropped too many points (those 2 home losses to the Washington schools and the 3 draws) that Stanford has already earned a share of the Pac-12 title by going 9-0-0 in conference play. Bears are 5th behind Stanford, USC, UCLA, and Washington.

Nonetheless, the unranked Cal Bears are in a good position to return to the 64 team NCAA postseason after a one year absence. Behind a strong defensive line and a brilliant freshman goalkeeper in Angelina Anderson, Cal Bears are a threat to beat anyone, which already included a resume of beating two top 10 ranked teams in the then No.7 UCLA and No.4 USC.

Anderson collected 10 saves on Thursday to earn the team’s 10th clean sheet of the season in a 3-0 win over Arizona.

Cal Bears have gone unbeaten in their past 6 matches, including this previously mentioned brilliant 3-0 win over then No.4 USC.

The unbeaten streak also includes 3 road draws at the Oregon schools and in snowy condition at Boulder, Colorado. While the Bears have a pretty good and balanced attack, it is simply not consistent enough for the Bears to avoid a common fate of being upset early in the postseason. Of course, with the strong defense, Bears are capable of upsetting anyone in the country as well. Having a great keeper in Angelina Anderson means that the Bears should not be afraid to have matches go to penalty shootouts.

Bears will honor their seniors in the home finale on Sunday against Arizona State. The regular season finale will be next Friday down at the Farm. It will be a major opportunity to drastically improve their RPI (currently at 32nd) for the Bears as they play No.2 in the coaches’ poll but No.1 in the RPI Stanford Cardinal.

Work to do:

Cal Men’s Soccer (6-4-3, 2-2-2 in Pac-12)

With only 48 teams making the NCAA postseason, Cal men’s soccer needs to raise their current RPI ranking of 65 to be considered. Fortunately for the Bears, there are still two major opportunities to boost their resume - upcoming matches against No.8 Washington and No.11 Stanford in the remaining regular season schedule. Both of those matches will be on the road, which means extra points for the Bears should they win those.

Golden Bears are coming off their 2nd 3-3 draw against UCLA this year on Thursday.

Prior to this match, Bears lost a narrow 2-1 at Portland in non-conference action.

Bears will host San Diego State on Sunday in their home finale. Earlier this year, Bears beat SDSU 4-0 as the Aztecs are still winless in conference play.

Cal Men’s Water Polo (10-7)

You cannot rule out Kirk Everist’s men because in men’s water polo, there is always that automatic bid up for grab in the end of the year MPSF tournament - hosted by the Cal Bears this year. Without earning that automatic bid, Cal will be out of the small NCAA men’s water polo postseason field for the 2nd straight season.

Of course, things have not gone so smooth in this rebuilding season for the Bears. The young Cal squads have already lost way too many matches (although none has come against the quality of a Harvard like last year), but their last 3 losses (in their last 4 matches) were either by just one goal or came in OT. The margin between the Bears and No.5 USC, No.7 Pepperdine, or No.4 UC Santa Barbara is not that insurmountable.

Golden Bears can use some major confidence boost when they visit No.2 UCLA on Saturday and No.6 Long Beach State on Sunday.

Earlier this year, 3 different Cal newcomers have been named MPSF newcomer of the week. True freshmen in keeper Adrian Weinberg and utility player Nikolaos Papanikolaou are already stars and should get even better in the future. Question for this 2019 Cal Men’s Water Polo team is that if that future is December of this year or next decade.

Cal Field Hockey (7-10, 1-3 in America East)

Bears need some help from Stanford to ensure that they have not already played their last match of the season last week. Should Stanford beat UC Davis on Saturday, Cal will earn the 2nd spot in the three team Western division of America East conference. This year, only the top 2 out of the West will make the conference championship where an automatic bid to the NCAA postseason is up for grab (thanks to Pacific cutting their program).

After a strong stretch of 3 straight wins, Cal lost their last two matches (against California rivals) by 1 goals each. Bears lost 3-2 to No.16 Stanford in their home finale before a tough 2-1 loss to UC Davis to close the regular season.

Junior Megan Rodgers had a strong season to lead the Bears again with 12 goals and 4 assists. Redshirt senior Katrina Carter was strong all year long with 9 goals and 2 assists. Junior Natalie Dalton has been solid as the keeper for the Bears.

Cal Cross Country

For Cross Country, their postseason fate will be decided by their performances at the NCAA West Regional. The “Championship Season” starts today, however, with the Pac-12 Championships from Oregon.

There are a bunch of ranked teams in the Pac-12 but the Golden Bears are not one of them in either the men’s nor women’s. Colorado, Stanford, Washington, and UCLA are ranked in the top-10 on the men’s side. Stanford, Washington, and Colorado are ranked in the top-10 on the women’s side.

Nonetheless, Cal did earn team qualification to the NCAA Championship as a team for the women and has had individuals earning NCAA Championship berth on the men’s side for the past few years.