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Golden Medals: Cal M. Water Polo hosting must-win MPSF tournament; 1 and down for Cal Soccers

Mirkovic’s ankle injury is a major concern for Cal Volleyball at the mountain schools

Cal Men’s Water Polo (phots by Catharyn Hayne Photography)

On the flip side of weeks like early this season, when Golden Bears were winning across the board regardless of sports, we have weeks like this past one when everything was disappointing.

Cal Cross Country, Women’s Soccer, and Men’s Soccer all saw their promising seasons end.

Cal Volleyball drops their last two home match of the regular season after star player Mima Mirkovic goes down and out with an ankle injury.

Then again, maybe Cal Men’s Water Polo can use home pool advantage this weekend to qualify for an improbable NCAA postseason berth. Or Cal Football will bring us the joy that we have long deserved and win the Big Game (no pressure there).

Cal Men’s Water Polo hosts MPSF Championships

It’s been a year where the top collegiate water polo teams have been quite vulnerable (yes, USC, Stanford, and UCLA still have far less losses than the Bears). Unfortunately, Golden Bears have come close (force OT) but not yet won any of these major showdown matches...yet. Bears’ regular season finale was a close 14-13 loss to No.1 USC, a frustrating match that included missing the chance to convert a 6 on 4 advantage.

With the automatic berth to the NCAA championship on the line, Bears will likely have to win this entire tournament to make a return to the small postseason field. You should never rule out head coach Kirk Everist’s team, especially with home pool advantage and everything to play for.

Teams: USC (13-4), Stanford (17-2), UCLA (16-3), Cal (12-10), Austin College (3-17), Penn State Behrend (6-12)

Dates/Times: Friday, Nov. 22 – Sunday, Nov. 24

Location: Berkeley, Calif. | Spieker Aquatics Complex

TV: MPSF TV | Pac-12 Network

TV Talent: Greg Mescall (PxP) & Adam Krikorian (Analyst) – Pac-12 Network

Bears are the 4th seed and will open on Friday afternoon at 3pm PT against the winner between Penn State Behrend and Austin College. A semifinal date will USC would be next on Saturday. Championship is Sunday at 3pm PT on the Pac-12 Network.

It will be quite tough, but this previously young but now seasoned Cal team should be up for the challenge to win three straight matches in three days.

Cal Men’s Soccer falls 3-1 at UCSB in NCAA 1st Round

Golden Bears may have won the regular season match 3-0 over UCSB earlier this year, but the Gauchos won the more important match last night to advance to face 5th overall seed Indiana.

It was a 1-1 match at the half before UCSB earned a penalty in the 2nd half at 65th minute. UCSB’s Thibault Candia promptly converted the penalty to go ahead, then Will Baynham added an additional goal late in the 73rd minute when the Bears were pushing for an equalizer.

Christian Gomez scored his first goal of the season for the Bears in the 39th minute to equalize the match after UCSB went ahead with a Rodney Michael goal in the 18th minute.

Several late Cal attempts were promptly saved by UCSB’s keeper Ben Roach.

Cal, 8-7-3 on the year, will lose some defense this offseason with the graduation of keeper Drake Callender and defender Simon Lekressner, who was named the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year earlier this week.

Cal Women’s Soccer falls 1-0 at Santa Clara in NCAA 1st Round

Golden Bears may have won the regular season match 2-1 over Santa Clara earlier this year, but the Broncos won the more important match last week in OT to advance.

It was scoreless after 90 minutes of hard fought battle. When the match restarted, Broncos’ Julie Doyle took a blast from just inside the box that found the back of the net past Cal keeper Angelina Anderson.

Anderson had a great night to bring the Bears to OT as the Broncos held a 12-1 shot on goal edge in the 2nd half with a 9-1 edge on corners.

Bears conclude their season with a 13-5-3 record. This has been a special season where the Bears defeated both USC and UCLA in the same season for the first time in quite some time.

Coming back for the Bears is the Pac-12 Freshman and Goalkeeper of the Year Angelina Anderson, as well as leading scorer Emma Westin and key defender Emily Smith for their senior campaigns.

Cal Cross Country seasons end at the NCAA West Regional

Redshirt sophomore Mina Anglero concluded her great season with a 22nd finish from Colfax, Washington, but that was just short of earning her an individual spot at the NCAA Championships.

Brie Oakley was the next best Cal finisher at 45th. As a team, the Cal women finished 12th at the meet with the following places scoring 22-45-71-92-93(132)(174).

On the men’s side, Colin FitzGerald was the top Cal finisher at 65th. The Cal men finished 18th as a team, with the following scoring 65-92-104-112-124(130)(144).

The Cal Cross Country athletes will now transition to the Track and Field season. The indoor season starts with the UW Invite at the end of January.

Cal Volleyball swept by the LA School after star Mima Mirkovic hurt her ankle

The final two Cal regular season home matches did not go as planned. Once Mima Mirkovic hurt her ankle at the end of a closely contested first set loss to UCLA, the Golden Bears drop the next two sets in non-competitive fashion.

Without Mirkovic for the whole match, Bears fought hard against USC but ultimately lost in 4 sets.

In addition to Mirkovic, Bears also have Savannah Rennie nursing an ACL injury that has limited her since the first third of the season. It’s not a good sign that Rennie was unable to go in her Cal home finale against USC.

With 4 tough Pac-12 road matches to close the regulars season, it’s good that the Golden Bears already have a 20-6, 10-6 in Pac-12 record to almost lock down a postseason berth.

For this weekend, No.24 Bears will play at Colorado on Friday night and then at No.16 Utah on Sunday morning. It will be interesting to see how this Cal teams fare against adversities.