Men's Soccer Earns Eighth Trip to the NCAA Tournament

Nov. 19, 2001

BERKELEY - The California men's soccer team (10-8-1, 3-5) earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in five years and its eighth overall postseason appearance. The Golden Bears face Santa Clara (11-8, 5-1) Friday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. at Maloney Field on the Stanford campus.

The last time Cal appeared in the NCAA Tournament was 1996 when they lost to Fresno State, 2-1, in the Far West Regional. Head coach Kevin Grimes has led a resurgent Bear squad this year after finishing last season with a 6-13-1 record.

'I'm so happy for our players, especially for our three seniors,' said Grimes. 'These guys have gone through a lot in their last four years here at Cal and for them, in their senior year, to have a chance to become a national champion is just amazing.'

Senior defender Leo Krupnik, along with midfielder Chris Roner will have the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their careers.

'It's a great feeling being well-coached by both Kevin (Grimes) and Brad (Agoos) and just having that confidence that we're going to win,' said Krupnik. 'This is a completely new team (from last year) with a new spirit and we're ready to roll. It's a new season now.'

Senior forward Austin Ripmaster, who was on the 1999 Indiana team that won the national championship was just as excited as Krupnik.

'I think justice has been served,' said Ripmaster, the Bears leading scorer. 'This is a great group of guys and we've worked really hard this year and we deserve it. I'm just ecstatic and relieved and ready to get down to business.'

Awaiting Cal in the first round is Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference. The Bears won an overtime thriller earlier this season versus the Broncos when freshman Mike Munoz blasted a shot in the 14th minute of the extra session to give the Bears a 1-0 win.

The first round victor faces No. 3 Stanford, which received an opening round bye. The winner faces the Cardinal, Sunday, 1 p.m. at Maloney Field.

'The focus now with the players will be the fact that all 48 teams in the tournament are 0-0,' said Grimes. 'We have to decide as a team whether we're just happy to be here or if we want to continue to advance in this tournament. Our feelings right now as a team, and as a coaching staff is that just getting here is not enough. We want to do the best we can and continue on in the tournament.

'I'd also like to say that I'm very happy for the athletic department and all the support they've given us this year,' Grimes added. 'They should be real proud of the 26 guys on this team.'

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