Cal Rugby 7s and Men's Golf win tournaments
No.19 Women's Soccer joined No.2 Men's Water Polo as ranked Cal teams; Cal alum wins Women's Iron Man
Since my last post, there had been several events that I thought would be a good lede for my next post. Of course, I never got around to writing those and you can probably guess what was the outcomes of Big Spike, Big Match (Men and Women Golf in match play), El Classico, an unofficial Big Splash, Cal Women’s Soccer vs. No.1 UCLA, and Cal Men’s Soccer vs. No.1 Washington.
Then again, there have also been some positive Cal results. Some of those were expected just based on how well the Golden Bears fought in those marquee contests. Let’s take a quick trip around Bear Territory.
Cal Men’s Rugby 7s wins West Coast Collegiate 7s
This past spring, Cal opted to break from the pattern from pre-COVID of playing in a “rugby 7s collegiate national championship” in about a month after the 15s season has concluded. It would appear that Cal Rugby is pushing for a fall 7s season to pair with a spring 15s season. We shall see what the Bears do this upcoming spring.
In the first of three fall weekend tournaments scheduled, Cal Golden Bears again came out triumphant. Cal defeated a worthy opponent in St. Mary’s College in the final by a 31-14 score.
Cal actually fielded two squads for this tournament. The A-team defeated Sacramento State 47-0 and SMC B-team 24-0 in pool play. The B-team defeated UC Santa Cruz 40-12 and UCLA 22-7 in another pool. Cal A-team then defeated host Cal Poly 24-7 in one semifinal. Cal B-team fell to SMC A-team 24-14 in the other semifinal to set up the East Bay showdown in the championship.
The championship final was only decided in the second half. SMC equalized a minute into the second half to tie the match at 14-14 before the Golden Bears scored 17 unanswered points to close out a 6th WCC 7s title. Alex Aguero, who scored the deciding try, was named the tournament MVP and tallied four on the day.
All 28 players who traveled to Cal Poly got to get some game action. Freshman Oliver Newall, playing on the Cal B-team, tied Aguero with a tournament-best four tries.
Cal will next compete in another West Coast Collegiate tournament at Treasure Island on Oct 22-23.
Cal Men’s Golf dominates at the Alister Mackenzie Invitational
With now being the Golden Age of Cal Golden Bears in the PGA Tour, maybe some of the current Cal Bears will be joining them in the near future. After missing out on the NCAA postseason last year, Cal Men’s Golf may be back as a contender in 2022-23. Golden Bears won the Alister Mackenzie Invitational at nearby Sonoma by 13 strokes this past weekend.
A strong third and final round of -12 team score allowed the Golden Bears to make up a one-stroke deficit and overtake Harvard. Junior Sampson Zheng is the top Bear with -10 to finish 2nd individually. Nathan Wang (T6), Tony Chen (T8), Ethan Chung (19), and Aaron Du (41) rounded out the official Cal team but several other Bears shined as individuals. Jeewon Park (T8) and Simon Kwon (T10) could make Cal head coach Walter Chun’s roster decision-making hard going forward.
This was Cal’s 3rd tournament of the school year. Bears finished 10th and T-9th in the other events. The record 11 tournament wins by that magical 2013 Cal team, that boosts three current PGA tour pros in Max Homa, Michael Kim, and Brandon Hagy, is probably safe.
Cal will next tee off at the Isleworth Collegiate in Florida on Oct 23-25.
Cal Men’s Water Polo improves to 13-1 ahead of regular season MPSF play
Even with the defending national champion, Cal Bears, an improved team this season, the dream of a perfect season was dashed at the MPSF Invitational hosted by Stanford. In that semifinal, Cal lost a tight, back-and-forth coin-flip match to Stanford 11-12 before winning another close one 11-10 over USC in the 3rd-place match.
Once again, the differences between Cal, Stanford, USC, and UCLA are small. Since the setback in the unofficial Big Splash (I tried to watch that stream but it was hard to follow the action outside of the score), No.2 Cal has defeated No.8 UCSB 11-8 and No.7 UC Davis 16-12 in addition to USC.
No.2 Cal (13-1) will host No.5 USC (13-4) in their regularly scheduled MPSF match this Saturday afternoon at 1 PM PT. This will be a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship final.
Cal Women’s Soccer is ranked after sweeping the Washington schools
Cal Women’s Soccer (8-3-3, 3-2 in Pac-12) dropped two tough matches to open Pac-12 play. They have since won three straight to earn a return to the national polls.
I was able to see this Cal team in person several weeks ago when they opened Pac-12 play at No.1 UCLA. Despite a brand new coach (former UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell went to NWSL to coach the Orlando Pride before being fired recently due to the damning Yates Report), the Bruins are the top team in the country. Cal took a brief lead before eventually losing 4-2. Cal keeper Angelina Anderson made a tremendous penalty save but when the Bruins’ relentless caused her to make some diving saves, the Bruins were able to convert on some second chances.
Nonetheless, I thought the Cal Bears looked quite promising despite the result. Unfortunately, the Bears followed that match with a 2-1 setback at Arizona State.
Cal 1, Arizona 0
While the Bears have several solid offensive options, the pairing of Keely Roy and Karlie Lema has been the most fruitful.
Keely Roy sent a good feed to Karlie Lema in the 86th minute for the game-winner to give Cal a much-needed first Pac-12 victory.
Cal 2, Washington State 1
Keely Roy put the Bears ahead in the first half.
Roy then converted a penalty to put the Bears ahead 2-0. Cal will hold on for a 2-1 victory.
Cal 2, Washington 1
Hannah Cooper scored a fantastic goal for the equalizer. This was Cooper’s first collegiate goal. Ari Manrique got the assist.
Closing our Cal Women’s Soccer highlight this week is the reverse of the first goal highlight. Karlie Lema fed Keely Roy for what turned out to be the game-winner.
With three goals, Keely Roy was an obvious choice to be the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. Roy now has 8 goals to go with 2 assists.
Cal will host USC this weekend before a trip to the Oregon Schools.
Elsewhere in Bear Territory
Cal Men’s Soccer (3-4-4, 1-3-1 in Pac-12) gave No.1 Washington a scare but fell 1-0.
Cal Volleyball (7-9, 0-6 in Pac-12) lost 2-3 to Oregon State but has yet to win another set so far in conference play.
Cal Field Hockey (3-8, 2-3 in America East) will play Stanford on Friday (Oct 14) night.
Last but definitely not least, Cal Cross Country alum Chelsea Sodaro won the Iron Man World Championship. She became the first American-born woman to win since 1995 and this was her first Iron Man triathlon. Sodaro became a triathlon athlete only 4-years ago and that included a pregnancy during that time as she gave birth a mere 18 months ago. Congratulations!