Palms of Victory: Cal Men's Soccer ties No.9 Stanford 0-0, shocks No.3 Oregon State 1-0

Cal Beach Volleyball beat another top-10 opponent in No.6 Hawaii; Baseball wins Pac-12 opening series at Utah

In case you missed it, Cal Men’s Swimming claimed five more NCAA individual national championships last week: three by Ryan Hoffer (50y Free, 100y Fly, 100y Free) who was also a part of two winning relays (200y Free Relay, 400y Free Relay). Golden Bears essentially won the swimming portion, behind those five wins, six 2nd-places (including 2 relays), and eight 3rd-places (including 1 relay), of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship but had to settle for team runner-up behind Texas who got a lot of points from the three diving events. You can and should read Christopher’s recap of that meet.

Below are the rest of the Cal Victories from March 22nd to 29th.

Cal Men’s Soccer (3-3-1) currently on a 4-match unbeaten streak

On March 7th, Cal Men’s Soccer was coming off three straight losses where they only scored 1 goal. Senior striker Tommy Williamson, drafted in the MLS Superdraft by the local San Jose Earthquake, had only played in just the opening game (and actually none since). Both of the inexperienced goalkeepers were allowing goals at an alarming rate. This had all the making of a rebuilding season where the Cal Bears will just hope to gain some game experiences ahead of this fall.

Upon further inspection, perhaps Cal should not be judged by their season opening performances when the first three opponents of this conference-only season were all ranked in the top-10 (two in the top-5) in the country.

After finding a way to beat San Diego State 3-2 on the road, Cal Bears continued their success with a 2-0 win over UCLA, who is having a down season. This was recapped last week. However, the Cal Bears have to go through the same gauntlet of top-10 opponents again since the Pac-12 men’s soccer schedule is always a home-and-home against every conferenec foe. The second time was the charm for the Golden Bears.

On Wednesday, March 25th:

Cal 0, No.9 Stanford 0

Pac-12 Networks had this broadcast and it was my first real good look at this year’s team (the UCLA match was also streamed, but lacked the production value of a Pac-12 Networks broadcast). Apparently because the match ended in a draw, the Pac-12 Network did not bother to post the highlights on YouTube.

The established starter since the third game of the season, Collin Travasos and the Cal defense made all the stops for the full 110 minutes down at The Farm. No.9 Stanford outshot the Bears 18 to 8, but Travasos only needed to make 5 saves. The Cardinal also had 16 corners to just 1 for Cal. Still, Travasos and the Bears stood tall through all the Stanford set-pieces. They withstood the constant Stanford attacks to earn a big draw in the second round of the “Big Clasico”.

On Sunday, March 28th:

Cal 1, No.3 Oregon State 0

Coming off that uplifting draw, the Golden Bears next had to face No.3 Oregon State Beavers. Showing why they are so highly regarded, Oregon States outshot the Bears 25 to 10. Yet Cal sophomore Juan Martinez was the only one able to bury the ball into the back of the net on Sunday evening. In the 59th minute, Martinez scored off a cross from Cal senior defender Christopher Grey.

Travasos made another 5 saves for his third consecutive clean sheet. After allowing 11 goals in the first 4 matches, the Cal defense had become completely unpermeable.

Season Status: The road for Cal Men’s Soccer does not get any easier as the Bears have a rematch at No.4 Washington coming up next. The Huskies just got upset by San Diego State 2-0 as the Pac-12 Men’s Standings has started to get more interesting.

While nothing is given in soccer, the Cal Bears can now perhaps finish in the top half of the Pac-12 standings. Just a few weeks ago, a potential postseason berth felt like a dream. Now, that could be a possibility, should the Bears find a way past the suddenly vulnerable Washington Huskies.

A counterpoint can be made that the parity of the past couple of weeks might have just cost the Pac-12 extra postseason spots.

Cal Beach Volleyball went 5-1 in the past week

After 16 days off, Cal Beach Volleyball was very busy this past week with three days of double-headers.

The restart saw the Bears playing both UC Davis and No.6 Hawaii at Davis.

On March 23rd:

Cal 3, UC Davis 2

With the windy (according to the post meet quote from coach Olson) condition as an equalizer, the Bears had a much tougher time in the rematch of their season opener. Nonetheless, Bears won on courts 2 (Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo - 21-15, 21-15), 4 (Kate Bierly/Brooke Buchner - 21-9, 21-17), and 5 (Katie Smoot/Grace Paulson - 23-21, 18-21, 15-8) to take this match. This was the first real action for the pair of Smoot, a graduate transfer from Arizona who will also help in indoor volleyball this fall, and freshman Paulson; they have only played as the exhibition 6th pair prior to this meet.

Cal 4, Hawaii 1

Olson switched the top two pairs for the Bears and it resulted in both Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo, known for their ball control according to the weekend’s Pac-12 Network broadcast, winning at court 1 21-11, 23-25, 15-11 and the senior roomate duo of Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer winning at court 2 21-18, 22-20. Bears also won on courts 3 (Alexia Inman/Maddie Micheletti - 21-16, 21-14) and 4 (Kate Bierly/Brooke Buchner -  21-19, 21-13) against a talented (and highly ranked) Hawaii squad that only started their season the day before.

Pac-12 South Tournament -

On March 27th:

Cal 0, UCLA 5

Cal 3, Washington 2

The switch of the top two pairs lasted only for two matches, Olson put Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer back to be the top pair and the Bears sweep the top two courts. Mirkovic/Schafer won 21-17, 21-12 on court 1. Radell/Polo won 21-9, 21-19 on court 2.

The bottom of the lineup was shuffled as Smoot now pair with Buchner on court 4. It was court 5 duo of Francesca Gettings/Grace Paulson that had the clinching win 16-21, 21-14, 15-9 for the Bears against Washington.

On March 28th:

Cal 5, Oregon 0

Cal 5, Utah 0

Day 2 of the Pac-12 South tournament saw more lineup experimentations for the Bears. There was also significantly more wind in the match against Utah, who are used to practice indoor.

Against Oregon and Utah, the Golden Bears did not drop any set in a clean sweep. The top three pairs remain the same as yesterday: Mima Mirkovic/Caroline Schafer at 1, Ainsley Radell/Jordan Polo at 2, Alexia Inman/Maddie Micheletti at 3. Sophomore Madison Sundholm made her collegiate debut and was paired with Katie Smoot at 4. A all-freshman duo of Brooke Buchner/Grace Paulson played at 5. Buchner has now played with 5 different partners in 11 matches this season.

Season Status:

With the Cal vs. UCLA match on the Pac-12 Networks, that was one of my best looks at the squad this year. Despite interim head coach Derek Olson’s attempt to mix things up and perhaps try to steal a win on court 2. UCLA was just too good and defeated the Bears in a clean sweep for the second time this year. UCLA and undefeated USC, whoo the Bears have yet to face this year, are the top-2 ranked squads in the country. They are also the only two schools to have won the NCAA Beach Volleyball championship in its short four-year history.

The Golden Bears (8-3, 4-2 in Pac-12) should see their ranking improve from No.11 after this past week. They will next play at Stanford on Saturday with a doubleheader against Cal Poly and then Stanford in the first of three scheduled meetings between the two Bay Area rivals.

Cal Baseball wins Pac-12 opening series at Utah, gets ace Grant Holman back

A shoulder issue had hold Grant Holman back until this past weekend. Golden Bears are perhaps even more fortunate since they start their Pac-12 season a week after everyone else (there are an odd number of Pac-12 baseball teams so one team is always playing non-conference foes…Bears played Cal Baptist last weekend) to give Holman extra time to heal. On a pitch count of 50 in his season debut, Grant Holman looked quite sharp and worked quite efficiently. The return of the two-way player as the Friday starter has really lengthen Cal’s pitching staff.

Cal 9, Utah 0

Holman struck out 4 in three innings of action. Nick Proctor proctored the Cal lead through his four innings of work. Jack Wolger and Ian Villers, who did the opposite of opening, finished the shutout.

Nathan Martorella and John Lagattuta hit homers in this game.

Cal 9, Utah 5

Playing in altitude, Bears smashed three more homers in game 2. Hance Smith hit two and had four RBI. Quentin Selma went 3 for 5 with three RBIs.

Sean Sullivan started the game but labored through his four innings while allowing three runns. Josh White allowed just two runs in his four innings of relief work and preserved the 4-3 Cal lead to pick up the win.

Cal 4, Utah 11

Season Status: College Baseball RPI has no love for the Cal Bears, who are currently ranked outside the top 120. This weekend’s 2 wins in three tries against the Utes (5-13 after their Sunday win) are unlikely to help that much. Without fall ball, Cal basically has had a relatively easy non-conference slate.

The good thing for the Bears (maybe) is that the Pac-12 will once again have some tough teams. There will be plenty of opportunities for the Bears to build a postseason resume IF they are indeed that good. After a Tuesday game against San Jose State, the Bears will welcome USC to Evans Diamond for a three game series. Since it is now Pac-12 play, we will finally have some sort of Cal online streams for the games.

Cal Women’s Tennis sweeps Washington schools

No.19 Cal Bears lost 1-6 at No.5 Pepperdine mid-week, but the Bears (12-3, 5-1 in Pac-12) bounced back with two conference wins at home over the weekend.

No.19 Cal 4, No.49 Washington 3

After winning the doubles point, the Bears played an altered lineup with normal No.3 singles player Valentina Ivanov although she did play in doubles. Nonetheless, Cami Brown making her collegiate debut won on court 6. Bears also got a win from senior Anna Bright on court 4. Senior Julia Rosenqvist broke the tie and clinched the win with her 7-5, 6-3 victory on court 2.

No.19 Cal 4, No.47 Washington State 3

The Bears again won the doubles point. Ivanov, back after missing the singles of the Washington match, won on court 3. Bears than got victories from Hannah Viller Moeller and Anna Bright on courts 4 and 5. After the victory was clinched, the Bears lost the last two remaining matches for the closer final score.

Cal freshman Jada Bui, who played in doubles against Washington, did not make another appearance on the weekend. With so many matches played, I suspect head coach Amanda Augustus was just resting player and rewarding other players with real game experience.

Season Status:

Unlike their men’s counterpart, who has not played since mid-January due to COVID issues, Cal women’s tennis has mostly beat who they are supposed to beat. While Cal fans would obviously prefer the Bears to sweep their opponents, Bears losing must-completed matches after the meet victory has been clinched probably does not matter that much. Outside of the one big upset over UCLA, the Bears have been swept against better competition. Well, a rematch against Pepperdine is coming up on Sunday after a quick trip to Eugene to take on the Ducks on Friday.

Cal Track and Field at Aztec Invitational

Below are all the Cal Bears who finished in the top-3 at the Aztec Invitational:

Long Jump: 1. Kamau Carlisle, 7.26m/23-10 (PR); 3. Hakim McMorris, 7.00m/22-11.75
1,500 Meters: 1. Garrett MacQuiddy, 3:47.68 (PR); 3. Ben Harper, 3:49.94 (PR)
400 Meters: 2. Henry Larkin, 47.46
800 Meters: 2. Benjamin Micallef, 1:50.26 (PR)

Hammer Throw: 1. Jasmine Blair, 56.39m/185-0
Triple Jump: 3. Asha Fletcher, 12.58m/41-3.25 (PR)
1,500 Meters: 1. Annie Boos, 4:24.41 (PR)
800 Meters: 2. Mina Anglero, 2:10.50

No 2019 NCAA champ Camryn Roger in this meet, but a third different Cal Bears has gone on to win a women’s throwing event this season. Congratulations to sophomore Jasmine Blair on taking that title with the second-best throw of her collegiate career.

Sophomore Kamau Carlise won another men’s long jump event in a meet. He followed up the win at the Trojan Invitational with a win at the Aztec Invitational. Even more importantly, he again set a new lifetime best.

Now that the Cross Country season is over, the distance runners have rejoined Cal Track and Field. When Robyne Johnson took over as the Director of Track and Field, she installed Bobby Lockhart as the new distance coach in 2019. Of course, most of these distance runners were recruited by his predecessor Shayla Houlihan. It is too early to say if the coaching change will shift the Cal distance group to a higher gear.

In this meet, Cal swept men’s and women’s 1500m with wins by senior Annie Boos and freshman Garrett MacQuiddy. The Bears swept 2nds in 800m with a par of seniors - Ben Micallef witht his personal best for the men and Mina Anglero for the women.

Season Status:

Regular readers can probably decipher how little I know about Cal Track and Field and why they sometimes only have a fraction of the team competing at a meet (this year, that information is even harder to come by given potential COVID reasons). Nonetheless, it is always promising to see multiple Bears setting new personal bests (all the “PR” listed next to the results).

The Stanford Invitational is up next this weekend from The Farm.

Cal Lacrosse picks up win against Fresno State

Congratulations to Cal Lacrosse for earning their mention on this post. Golden Bears played three matches this past week, including two on Pac-12 Networks. They earned a second win on the season in the untelevised game (apparently for lacrosse, match/game can be interchanged freely).

Cal 5, Colorado 15

Cal 4, Stanford 21

Cal 11, Fresno State 9

Freshman goalkeeper Lily Rathbun made her collegiate debut and made six saves. The nine goals allowed by her is the fewest goals allowed by the Bears this season. Senior Marisa Kuberra scored 4 goals, tied her career best, to lead the Bears offensively.

Season Status: While the Golden Bears was finally able to pick up a second win on the season (both against Fresno State), Cal just has not been that competitive against their Pac-12 foes. Cal Bears are 2-7 on the year but 0-5 in Pac-12 contests.

Golden Bears will now continue to have rematches against everyone that they have played, including UC Davis twice. The hope here is that the Bears can get different results, like what Cal Men’s Soccer has done, or else this might be the last mention of them in this column.