Cal Olympic Sports: Dawn of conference play
Men's water polo stays undefeated, Women's Soccer unbeaten in last 7 matches
The format of my weekly Cal Olympic Sports posts this semester will be alternating between quick updates of all the sports (like today) and specific articles (I am planning to write one next weekend about Cal Women’s Soccer after attending their Pac-12 opener at UCLA on Friday).
There is again plenty of action of various variety on campus this weekend.
Let’s take a look at how all of the Cal Olympic Sports programs had fared in the last two weeks.
No.1 Cal Men’s Water Polo (7-0) - Still perfect
Even when the Golden Bears are NOT the defending national champions with almost all of the team back for a repeat run, Cal expects to be undefeated against all teams not named UCLA/USC/Stanford. Cal staying perfect is not a surprise.
However, after rolling to four easy wins in their opening weekend, Cal Bears had to fight hard to come back twice against No.5 Pacific in Cal’s home opener. Twice overcoming deficits as great as four goals, the Bears prevailed 16-15 in OT over the Pacific Tigers. Junior Warren Loth was particularly clutch in OT by scoring both Cal goals and making key field blocks.
Cal had fewer issues in beating No.13 UC San Diego 19-15. Senior Jack Deely led the Bears with four goals and five assists.
Against No.9 Pepperdine, Cal needed a strong second half to pull away for the 17-12 victory. The Bears only got the lead for good in the 3rd quarter.
With the players still building up their stamina and the coaching staff experimenting with different lineup combinations, some of the early season “struggles” are to be expected. Cal was particularly sloppy at times with bad turnovers in that Pacific contest. Especially because the Bears got the W in the end, we can say that these early tests are good experiences.
Sophomore Max Casabella scored 18 points to earn the MPSF Player of the Week.
Men’s Water Polo is still the best (only?) bet to win Cal’s next team national championship this fall.
After hosting UC Irvine tonight, Cal’s first real test will be the later stage of the MPSF Invite tournament in Stanford next weekend when they will take on one of the other collegiate men’s water polo blue blood.
Cal Women’s Soccer (4-1-3) - Great defense during the current 7-match unbeaten streak
Through 8 official matches on the season (not counting the 2-2 draw against the Chinese National Team), Cal has not allowed more than one goal in any contest. On the flip side, the Bears have at most scored just two goals in any match.
Between the pipes, senior goalkeeper Angelina Anderson has already recorded three clean sheets before sharing another one with freshman Teagan Wy on Thursday after the Bears beat UNLV 2-0. Cal dominated with a 24-5 shot advantage in this road match.
Bears also defeated Santa Clara, the 2020 NCAA champs who won the delayed College Cup, by a 1-0 result in their previous match. This win broke three straight draws (0-0 at Cal State Fullerton, 1-1 vs. No.14 Pepperdine, 1-1 at San Francisco).
The current 7-match unbeaten streak started with a 2-0 win at St. Mary’s and then a 2-0 win over UC San Diego (see highlights below).
Cal will host Penn on Sunday before opening Pac-12 play at No.1 UCLA next Friday. Golden Bears are talented enough to possibly pull off a major upset.
Cal Men’s Soccer (2-1-3, 1-0) wins Pac-12 Opener
Once again, Pac-12 play will not be easy for Cal Men’s Soccer. Three of Cal’s 5 conference foes are ranked: No.2 Stanford, No.4 Washington, and No.25 UCLA. Cal was able to kick off Pac-12 play in the brand new Leonard Griffin era with a home win over San Diego State (they are in the Pac-12 for men’s soccer)
New Cal forward Nonso Adimabua, a transfer from USF and the lone Bear to be named to a national player of the year watchlist, tallied his first Cal official goal which turned out to be the game-winner. Adimabua scored off his chest on a nice pass from Adrian Guzman. Guzman tallied his own goal later in the match.
Prior to Thursday’s triumph, Cal only got new head coach Leonard Griffin his first official win last Saturday in a 1-0 win over Cal Baptist. Griffin’s Bears have managed 1-1 draws in their previous three matches (vs. Villanova, at UC Irvine, at UC San Diego).
Cal will next host No.25 UCLA on Sunday. The Bruins are coming off a draw at Stanford on Thursday. A home win over UCLA was Cal’s lone conference win last year, but UCLA has appeared to be much improved this year.
The low-scoring nature of soccer means that the Cal Bears can have both frustrating draws/losses to inferior teams but also draws/wins over better quality sides. Maybe the home-and-home conference format against so many good teams can work to the Bears’ advantage in their bid to return to the NCAA tournament.
Cal Volleyball (6-3) - A work in progress
After starting all of their freshmen in the first weekend of play, Cal Volleyball appears to have settled on a regular lineup - the same as the opening tournament with junior Sam Taumoepeau replacing Peyton Dejardin as the second outside hitter.
Cal Bears are coming off a straight-set win over SMC.
While the blocking has leveled off as the Bears play better competition, it remains a calling card of this team. Freshmen Sophie Scott (44.0) and Mikayla Hayden (42.0) are among the Pac-12 leaders in blocks. They join the strong blocking and killing season of junior Lydia Grote (145 kills and 30.0 blocks).
Annalea Maeder is the sole floor quarterback of the squad with 274 assists (8.84 assists per set) as the setter.
Cal is coming off a 2-1 performance at the Cal Tournament: 3-1 over Utah Tech, 3-0 over Tennessee State, 1-3 loss to Nevada. Libero Tara Desa was joined by Scott and Hayden on the all-tournament squad.
Cal split the matches at the Utah Valley tournament the previous weekend. Cal lost to host Utah Valley 1-3 before sweeping Northern Arizona 3-0.
Cal will conclude non-conference play with a home match vs. UC Davis on Saturday. Then it is on to the grueling Pac-12 play where the Bears will hopefully be not just competitive in some sets but drastically improve on only one Pac-12 win (at least that was over Stanford) in the last two seasons.
Cal Field Hockey (1-5) - Matches vs. top teams went as expected
Golden Bears welcomed No.2 North Carolina and No.18 Wake Forest to Berkeley this past weekend. The Bears might be able to find some moral victories in some solid quarters of what turned out to be 7-0 and 6-1 losses to the two ACC field hockey powerhouses.
In the weekend prior, Cal pushed Indiana to OT before losing 3-2 in the sudden-death period. The Bears did register their lone victory in the home opener: 4-1 over Bellarmine (a private school in Louisville, Kentucky).
Cal will have this weekend off before starting America East conference play on the road next weekend.
Cal Men’s took 2nd, Women’s took 8th in Cross Country opener at USF Invite
Three Bears finished in the top-10 to lead the Cal men. Freshman Caden Carney finished 4th, ahead of veteran teammate Garrett MacQuiddy in 6th. Landen Lee crossed the finish line 8th. Cal (80, from 4-6-8-20-42) finished behind only rival Stanford (70, whose top-5 finished 12-13-14-15-16) in the field of 14 schools.
Cal women finished in the middle of the pack by placing 8th as a team. Newcomer Ellie Black led the Bears by placing 22nd.
Cal will next race in the UC Riverside Invitational on Saturday.
Great rundown. Thank you!
Always appreciate the updates, Ruey.