No. 5 Cal Travels to Fresno State
CAL HITS THE ROAD:
Boasting its highest coaches' ranking in nine years, No. 5 California (4-1-1) visits Fresno State (1-5-0) Sunday, Sept. 22. Game time is at 1:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium. The Bears are on the road for the next three games, including a trip east to take on Penn Sept. 27 and Hartford Sept. 29.
BAY AREA TALENT DOMINATE CAL ROSTER:
Cal has built itself into one of the nation's top programs over the last several years by utilizing a lot of home-grown talent. This year, 13 players on Cal's 28-player roster hail from the Bay Area. This is more than Santa Clara (10), Saint Mary's (5) and Stanford (3), which are all local programs with a history of being ranked.
BEARS EARN HIGHEST COACHES' RANKING IN NINE YEARS:
On the strength of a 2-1 victory over No. 3 Santa Clara, Cal moved from No. 7 to No. 5 in this week's NSCAA Top 25 poll. This is the Bears highest coaches' ranking since securing the No. 2 spot Oct. 18, 1993, after a 1-0 triumph over then-No. 2 Santa Clara. In the Soccer America poll this week, Cal jumped from No. 7 to No. 6. SoccerTimes also has Cal at No. 5 this week, while the Soccer Buzz poll isn't out yet.
TOUGH SCHEDULE IN 2002:
Cal is playing one of its most ambitious schedules in several years in 2002. In this week's NSCAA Top 25, eight of those teams are on Cal's docket, including No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Texas, No. 8 Wake Forest, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 10 Santa Clara, No. 19 Washington and No. 20 Purdue.
FRESHMEN RESPOND TO CHALLENGE:
Tracy Hamm is among the freshmen who have been forced into greater roles on the Cal team due to injuries, and she has responded like a veteran. The Moraga, Calif., product leads the team with six points and three goals, two of which were game-winners. Hamm is starting up top in place of senior All-American Laura Schott, who has missed the Bears last five games (one red card, four MCL sprain). Schott is listed as day-to-day. Freshmen Sierra Garthwaite and Sierra Schlesinger also have performed well in defense in place of the injured Kim Stocklmeier (broken collarbone). Other new players may get their chance on Cal's backline, as Lucy Brining and Ashley Valenzuela are also day-to-day due to concussions sustained against Saint Mary's.
DEFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT:
After sporting a 1.13 goals-against average in 2001, Cal's defense has shown dramatic improvement early on this year, cutting its GAA to 0.64. Redshirt freshman Ashley Sulprizio has started four of Cal's games and has a 0.50 GAA and two shutouts to her credit, and redshirt junior Sani Post has posted a 0.71 GAA in her two starts, one being a shutout. Cal's three shutouts is half of its 2001 total.
CAL KNOCKS OFF TWO NO. 3 TEAMS IN BACK-TO-BACK GAMES:
Senior midfielder Brittany Kirk tallied a goal and an assist as No. 7 Cal edged No. 3 Santa Clara, 2-1, Friday. This is the second-straight year that the Bears have defeated the Broncos, the 2001 national champions. The SCU game also marked Cal's second-consecutive victory over the No. 3 team in the country, as it defeated Texas A&M, 1-0, Sept. 8. Kirk's goal and Cal freshman forward Tracy Hamm's came less than two minutes a part in the first half. Kirk also scored a goal with 14 seconds left in regulation to help Cal secure a 1-1 tie at Saint Mary's Sunday.
SCOUTING FRESNO STATE:
Fresno State is off to a slow start at 1-5 with its lone victory coming against Southern Utah (4-0) on Sept. 6. The Bulldogs regularly start five freshmen and one of them, midfielder/forward Kortney Lewis, leads the team in points (9) and goals (4). Cal won the only previous meeting with Fresno State, 2-0, in Berkeley last year behind two goals from Laura Schott.