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Golden Medals: Defender Emily Smith is Pac-12 Player of Week as Cal W. Soccer has 5 clean sheets

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Golden Bears are doing quite well across all programs

Junior Emily Smith leads a strong Cal backline that has allowed only 4 shots on goal in 5 matches
Cal Women’s Soccer Facebook

The strong starts across all Cal sports continued for the second full weekend of action. While Cal Volleyball’s home opener is still a week away and Cal Field Hockey is on one of their many road trips (to Iowa this weekend), there will be plenty of action on campus this weekend with Men’s Water Polo, Men’s Soccer, and Women’s Soccer all taking place in the friendly confines of Bear Territory.

Cal Cross Country will also be in action on their 2nd event of the season. They will race at UC Davis today.

Cal Women’s Soccer (5-0) is one of the best defensive team in the country

While I voiced some concern about the Cal defense coming into this season, the Cal backline has absolutely shined in the early part of the 2019 schedule. Granted, the Golden Bears have not played a particularly tough schedule (and thus has not really got much love in the Coaches’ Poll where the Bears have merely received a few votes), but being dominant defensively in these matches is obviously a great sign.

The leader of the Cal defensive line since her freshman year (Pac-12 All Freshmen Team, Pac-12 3rd Team), Emily Smith took a step back in her sophomore season where she was possibly slowed by an injury that she powered through (still one of the Cal leader in minutes last year after missing an early season match). So far in her junior season, Smith is back to her top form in leading the Golden Bears back line to allow just 4 shots on goal all year long thus far (5 matches). Smith was recognized as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week earlier this week. Congrats to Emily!

Cal 1, Montana 0

In Bears’ lone match last weekend, it took a penalty goal early in the 2nd half, converted by Abi Kim to keep the Bears perfect on the season. This was the first match this year where the Cal Bears were unable to score more than one goal.

Somewhat shockingly, 2 of the 4 shots on goal allowed this season came from this match. Freshman keeper Angelina Anderson was up for the challenge to record her 4th shutout of the season (she split time with other keeper in the opener).

Bears will hope to keep their perfect season going today against UC Irvine (1-5) from Irvine. The Anteaters have faced some tough competitions this year including 3 top-10 ranked teams (UCLA, Virginia, Vanderbilt) and 3 Pac-12 teams (UCLA, Arizona, ASU) while losing all of these. It will be a very short road trip as the Bears will be back to host a match on Sunday.

On Sunday, Bears host a dangerous Santa Clara Broncos (3-3) that got enough votes to be the 26th best team in the rankings. Santa Clara has already registered a 2-0 upset win over then No.2 UCLA this year. This match will be Cal’s first appearance on the Pac-12 Networks this season.

Cal Volleyball (6-0) on the verge of breaking into the top 25 rankings

Also receiving votes in their Coaches’ poll, Cal Volleyball (6-0) are the 28th best team after another impressive and perfect weekend from Southern California.

At the UC Irvine tournament, Cal swept all 9 sets played in fairly easy fashion as they continue their return to collegiate volleyball relevance under new head coach Sam Crosson.

Cal 3, North Carolina 0: 25-15, 25-15, 25-13

A hitting percentage dominance by the Golden Bears of 0.453 to 0.079 tells the entire story. Senior Maddie Haynes hit a career best 0.542 en route to 14 kills. Savannah Rennie added 10 kills on 0.556 hitting. Mirkovic just missed a double-double with 9 kills to go with 11 digs.

Cal 3, UNLV 0: 25-14, 25-19, 25-18

Another dominant hitting performances by the Bears led to another straight set win. Bears, with both Isabel Potter and Jade Blevins as setters, outhit UNLV 0.357 to 0.083. That minuscule Rebels’ hitting percentage is partially due to 10 Cal blocks (Lauren Forte has 5 block assists in this one). Mirkovic led the way with 10 kills and 9 digs.

Cal 3, UC Irvine 0: 25-17, 25-12, 25-15

Mirkovic had 11 kills and Rennie had a very efficient 9 kills in 10 attempts to lead the way for the Golden Bears against the home squad.

Cal Bears are in Fargo, North Dakota this weekend in their final non-conference tournament of the season. Bears will play two matches today against Buffalo (2-4) and home team North Dakota State (3-3). There will be video streams of both of these matches.

Bears will then open their home schedule next Thursday against St. Mary’s College. The Pac-12 season opens the following week when the top ranked Stanford visits Berkeley on Thursday for the first of two Big Spikes on the season. That Stanford match could be the most competitive Big Spike in several years.

Cal Men’s Soccer (2-0-1) breaks out offensively with 3-0 win

Cal 3, UC Santa Barbara 0

TopDrawer honored Cal sophomore Alonzo Del Mundo this week by naming the forward on their Team of the Week. Del Mundo assisted in all 3 goals scored by the Cal Bears this past weekend against the UCSB Gauchos. This was the first match of the season where the Bears scored more than 1 goal.

With that win, Top Drawer has the Golden Bears 25th in their rankings while the Bears are merely receiving votes in the Coaches’ Poll.

Bears will host American on Friday and Denver on Sunday. The Sunday match will be a part of the Pac-12 Network doubleheader along with the women’s match.

Cal Men’s Water Polo (3-1) suffers a rare early season loss

A slightly younger No.5 Cal Men’s Water Polo squad should get better as they go through the gauntlet of a grueling season. Still, the Bears suffered a rare early season hiccup in dropping their 3rd match of the season to No.7 UC Santa Barbara by a 8-5 margin; Bears will have plenty of opportunities to avenge for that loss later this year.

Cal 22, Whittier College 2

Ho-hum, Cal opens the season with a scoring barrage against the outmatched Whittier. Newcomers got to score or make saves in a low pressure match.

Cal 14, No.14 Loyola Marymount 9

Bears jumped out to a big lead and hold off Loyola Marymount’s late surge to win their 2nd match of day 1.

Cal 5, No.7 UC Santa Barbara 8

Bears’ inefficiency during power play (2 for 13) doomed them in this defensive struggle.

Cal 11, No.13 UC Irvine 6

Bouncing back from the loss, Bears dominated this match early and build a 6-goal lead at the half that they never relinquished.

Senior Safak Simsek, as expected, led the Bears with 12 goals and 6 assists. Freshman Adrien Weinberg split time with senior Bernardo Carelli as the keeper.

Earlier this week, Cal lost an exhibition to Italian club team Pro Recco by a 20-9 margin. That should be a good learning experience for the young Cal team.

11th ranked UC Davis and 6th ranked Pacific will visit Spieker this weekend with matches on Saturday and Sunday. After the Aggie Roundup at Davis next weekend, Cal may face their first biggest challenges of the season in two weeks at the SoCal Invitational hosted by UCLA. Until then, there are several things to figure out for head coach Kirk Everist on his main lineup for the season.

Cal Field Hockey (1-2) nearly pulls off major upset in 2-1 loss to Michigan

While field hockey is certainly not horseshoe, Cal Bears should feel good about their close match against then 7th ranked Michigan squad last weekend. Bears had a 1-0 lead on a Katrina Carter goal before Michigan equalized just before the half. The Wolverines scored the go-ahead goal in the 52nd minute, and the Bears were unable to answer.

Continue to test themselves against the best, Bears will face No.7 Iowa and No.2 Duke this weekend from Iowa.

Despite leading the team in shots, Cal sophomore Megan Rodgers have been hold goalless in several early matches this season. Cal would need her to break out in a big way to score a major upset this weekend.