The stadiums won’t be silent. The fields won’t be empty. The stands won’t be quiet. For the first time in nearly two years, fall sports will fully return to UC Berkeley.
Hello, Bears, sports are back.
Cal athletes will have an opportunity to start and, if health and safety can be maintained, end their seasons as the leaves change colors and the crisp, cool winter evenings roll across the East Bay.
Whether you want to watch the Bears at night under the lights or catch the last rays of summer while lounging in the bleachers, there are numerous opportunities to watch the blue and gold in action.
Here are a few Cal sports events to watch in Berkeley this fall — the ones worth leaving desks and dormitories if fans are allowed to witness sports in person.
Sept. 4: Cal football vs. Nevada at Memorial Stadium
There’s nothing better than a season-opening night game to kick off this event list.
Memorial Stadium will be rocking on the first Saturday of September as fans and players return for a much-anticipated football season.
Under head coach Justin Wilcox, Cal has never lost a nonconference regular-season game. Let your hopes rise like the breeze above Strawberry Creek before the Bears’ Pac-12 opponents rush in to bury them.
This year, Cal brings an experienced roster and will welcome fans with a game against the Nevada Wolf Pack. The Bears have had a full offseason to tune up their new offense: The sky is their only self-imposed limit.
Sept. 19: Cal field hockey vs. Northwestern at Underhill Field
It’s been four, long years since the blue and gold last tallied a winning record in a field hockey season. While Cal is not a field hockey powerhouse, the blue and gold will doubtless seek to upset expectations and apple carts this season.
The Bears’ biggest and baddest foe may be No. 4 Northwestern, which will march into Berkeley in the middle of Cal’s season.
The Bears’ efforts may be led by senior Zorilla Brynn and graduate student Maddie Cleat, who each finished with three goals in their last three games to top Cal’s goal-scoring charts.
Tucked between the Southside dormitories, Underhill Field is accessible and presents an ideal opportunity for outdoor, live sports between homework, tests and meals.
Sept. 25: Cal women’s soccer vs. Colorado at Edward’s Stadium
The Bears’ most exciting home match — a 1-1 draw with defending national champions Santa Clara on Aug. 22 — may have come and gone, but there’s still plenty to look forward to this season.
Cal women’s soccer is ranked No. 20 in the nation, and in a competitive Pac-12 conference, the blue and gold will have ample opportunities to make their name heard.
Last season, Cal started hot before a loss to Colorado set them a step back; in fact, the Bears have not bested the Buffaloes since 2017. A victory in what would be its first conference match of the season could show promise for what’s to come.
Oct. 24, Cal women’s soccer v. Arizona State at Edward’s Stadium
The Bears’ final home game of the regular season will be a dance with the Sun Devils.
If Cal maintains good form through the fall, this game could be critical for any hopes at a conference title, especially because the blue and gold will finish their season with three away games against ranked opponents: USC, UCLA and bitter rival Stanford.
Powered by two incredible goalies in Makena Smith and Angelina Anderson, dreams of the postseason may come to fruition for the Bears.
Nov. 11: Cal men’s soccer vs. Stanford at Edward’s Stadium
The blue and gold have had a penchant for upsets the last few seasons, finding ways to beat highly ranked opponents with regularity, even as mediocrity looms in the shadows.
It is difficult to guarantee much when it comes to Cal men’s soccer, but the Bears will probably find a way to make their rivalry match against Stanford something to write home about.
The Cardinal are ranked No. 138 in the nation, but that won’t stop Cal from making this game interesting. The Big Clasico will be more than worth 90 minutes of your time come November.
Nov. 13: Cal football vs. USC at Memorial Stadium
The blue and gold’s sixth and final home game of the 2021 season will come against college football behemoth USC.
The Bears will play their senior night, the Joe Roth Game, against a Trojans team that has an outside shot at a college playoff berth. Should USC’s luck hold, this could be a pivotal game in its quest for renewed relevance.
For Cal, this will likely be a pivotal game in its humble journey toward a simple bowl game. Cheez-Its, anyone?
But who knows? Throw in a dash of fortune, a dollop of maximum effort, shades of 1937 and the senior season of players such as Kuony Deng, Cameron Goode and Chase Garbers and perhaps, possibilities will rise to the surface.
Nov. 13: Cal men’s water polo vs. UCLA at Spieker Aquatics Complex
Forget interesting. Forget exciting. Forget postseason possibilities or bowl game berths. You want to watch a national championship contender this fall? Show up for Cal men’s water polo.
The Bears have won 14 national championships, the most recent of which was in 2016, and are a perennial powerhouse. Their meeting with opposing titan, fellow contender and defending national champion UCLA is almost guaranteed to have postseason ramifications for the conference and the nation.
These two rivals have battled in plenty of pools throughout the years — the blue and gold finished 2-2 against the Bruins last season — and 2021 should be no different.
Nov. 27: Cal volleyball vs. Stanford at Haas Pavilion
Stanford and Cal, Cal and Stanford. You will rarely find a more bitter rivalry than the cross-bay contest.
The Bears bested the Cardinal for their first win of the season last spring in an epic five-set throwdown. While Cal’s dances with Stanford are not always so objectively copacetic, a season-ending battle between rivals is the definition of dramatic.
Both teams will seek to rebound from rocky seasons; both teams will have their eyes on the postseason; and both teams will have one thing on their minds: victory.