Following the win against Stanford, Cal will head to the MPSF Championships on Friday, Nov. 18, and will play its first game against Penn State Behrend. The Bears will start in the quarterfinals and advance based on their winning rounds.
In the MPSF Championships there are two divisions: the East Coast and the West Coast. Cal is playing Penn State Behrend first, a team that ranked fourth in the East Coast round robin. Stanford will go on to play Augustana College in its first round. Based on these two matchups — and if both Cal and Stanford win — then they would play each other in the semifinals Saturday.
Penn State Behrend is coming into the tournament with a record of 0-21. Having lost twice to multiple teams including Johns Hopkins, a team that Cal beat 33-4 at the Navy Open, this first round should be in calm waters. It seems likely, then, that Cal will meet Stanford on Saturday.
Playing a team two weekends in a row is never easy. Stanford has experienced Cal’s developed team, and the Bears will now need to be able to match Stanford’s intensity in order to have a chance to add another win to their resume.
“I wouldn’t anticipate us getting that big of a lead against a team the quality of Stanford,” said head coach Kirk Everist. “We are going to need to be ready to play. They are going to be in a mode where everyone needs to get as high as they can to give themselves the best shot.”
Last week when Cal played Stanford, the Bears were able to come out on top by having a secure defense that shut down Stanford’s shooting throughout the first half. They also had a competitive offense that contributed to their win. The Bears will need to bring this same energy into their high stakes matchups this weekend.
If the Bears do not win the MPSF tournament, then they will have to go through a more formal process of getting a bid.
“Everyone is going to be focused and ready to play over the weekend to get an automatic bid into NCAA,” Everist said. “After that, it gets into the at-large process where you are at the mercy of a panel of people that are looking at your overall resume for the year.”
At last year’s MPSF Championship, the Bears were the No. 1 seed and lost to No. 2 seed USC 9-11 in the third place game, making them subject to this panel process. This year, fans are hopeful that the Bears will be able to turn their luck around and get the automatic bid into the NCAA championship, which is being hosted at home.
“We played well but this week we need to keep practicing hard and keep our mind on the goal or get carried away by this result,” said senior Nikolaos Papanikolaou. “We will go into the tournament very seriously with our goal to win it all. It will be a great preparation for the NCAA tournament in three weeks.”