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Dominant 5-0 win for W. Soccer in opener; M. Soccer and Field Hockey previews

Men’s Soccer, Field Hockey, and Volleyball will open next weekend

Junior Megan Rodgers should continue to build her resume as one of the best Cal Field Hockey player ever.
Cal Field Hockey Twitter

Cal Athletics is undefeated in the brand new 2019-20 school year! Sure, there has only been one event, but it was still quite good to see the results of Cal Women’s Soccer beating Weber State 5-0 from Edwards Stadium yesterday afternoon.

It was a perfect opener as 4 different Cal Bears tallied a goal and goalkeepers combined for a clean sheet. Bears were also able to debut 7 new players in this match.

Cal Women’s Soccer will visit SoCal next weekend with Friday matches at UC Santa Barbara and Sunday match at San Diego State.

Young Cal Men’s Soccer team looks to continue momentum from beating then No.6 Stanford in 2018 finale

With the graduation of Shinya Kadono, someone (or multiple Bears) will need to step up to pick up the scoring slack for Cal Men’s Soccer in 2019. Fortunately, there are plenty of candidates.

Head coach Kevin Grimes has shown remarkable ability in teaching his Golden Bears that many Cal Men’s Soccer players drastically improved their game between freshmen and junior season. Unfortunately, Cal Men’s Soccer success is often cyclical in nature with many great players become early defectors to Major League Soccer (or pro soccer elsewhere).

Things are not quite aligned for the 2019 season with Cal having experienced goalkeepers (yes, plural) in Drake Callender and Noah Texter. They have a solid defense line in front of them with a pair of sophomores JJ Foe Nuphaus and Ian Lonergan (both in the top 5 in minutes played last year) along with junior Christopher Grey. Bears will need to replace another senior in Sam Junqua in the backline (8th overall pick by the Houston Dynamos this year), but the backline should be an asset for this team.

By the way, JJ Foe Nuphaus was the hero in Cal’s big win over Stanford last year.

In the midfield and forward spots, opportunities abound for the 20 freshmen-sophomores on the squad to make impacts. In addition to Kadono, Bears also graduated an all-conference midfielder in Sam Ebstein. Bears only return 10 goals from last season.

It will be interesting to see which player will step up this year. Head Coach Kevin Grimes does not usually play a very deep bench, but might be rotating guys early on to find combinations that work.

In 2018, Bears went 7-9-2, 3-9 in Pac-12 play with the conference wins against San Diego States and the big one at the end against Stanford. Bears certainly need to improve their results in conference play.

While conventional wisdom is that Cal Men’s Soccer might not get back to the NCAA postseason (only 32 teams for Men’s Soccer) until next year (for the first time since 2017), Golden Bears may surprise in 2019.

West coast Field Hockey took a hit with Pacific cutting their program, but legend of Megan Rodgers should grow in 2019

The Western Division of American East field hockey is down to just 3 teams. University of Pacific has decided to cut their Field Hockey program, leaving only Cal, Stanford, and UC Davis as west coast Division 1 Field Hockey programs. In case you may be misremembering, Cal Field Hockey was NOT on the chopping block back in 2010, but they were forgotten and lost their field until a Title IX lawsuit against the University prompted the reconfiguration of Underhill Field.

Pacific actually has had a rising program in recent year. The Tigers were ranked in the top 25 at points last year - supplanting Cal as the 2nd best west coast program behind Stanford. It’s a blow to the entire west coast field hockey to lose that program.

Record-wise, Cal Field Hockey took a step back in 2018 when they finished with a record of 5-12 after a winning record (9-8) in 2017. However, the program also really challenged themselves with a very tough schedule last year. The 2019 schedule is more manageable despite the Bears again being road warriors with 2 East Coast trips (Mid-Atlantic and Connecticut) plus an Iowa trip.

Unlike Cal Men’s Soccer, Cal Field Hockey is returning a lot of its offense, led by junior Megan Rodgers. Rodgers’ sophomore campaign continued her torrid offense from freshman season; Rodgers had 13 goals and 4 assists - almost half of the teams’ 29 goals on the year. Cal also returns players who are used to setting Rodgers up for goals with midfielder Femke Delissen (5 assists) and Lindsay Mathison (4 assists) back.

With 31 career goals, Rodgers is already the 8th all-time scorer in Cal Field Hockey history. She should finish her career as the clear No.2 on the all-time Cal list behind Valentina Godfrid, a Cal Athletics 2019 Hall of Fame inductee. Godfrid has 93 career goals. 2nd place is only 45 goals.

Bears will also have an experienced keeper in senior Danielle Mentink, but will need better defensive plays (hard to figure out from the box scores) in front of her than last season.