No. 21 Cal Hosts USC, No. 3 UCLA

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WHAT'S ON TAP: After finishing a six-game road trip with a 3-3 record, No. 21 California (Soccer Times) returns home to Edwards Stadium to host USC and No. 3 UCLA. The Golden Bears (6-3-3, 1-1 Pac-10) entertain the Trojans (5-4-4, 1-0-1) Friday, Oct. 17, at 3:30 p.m., in their home conference opener. Cal then faces the Bruins (9-1-2, 2-0) Sunday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m.

DEFENSE STEPPING UP IN 2003: Cal has posted shutouts in six of its 12 games, including five of six wins, this season after recording six shutouts during 2002. Redshirt sophomore Ashley Sulprizio owns two of the shutouts, and freshman Anna Key has the other four. Sulprizio, who boasts a superb 0.45 goals-against average, started the first four games of 2003 before breaking her left thumb during warmups of the Dayton game. Key has stepped in and posted a solid 0.85 GAA. Cal has permitted only nine goals, while scoring 17. The team's combined GAA has improved from 1.08 in 2002 to 0.71 in 2003. The senior backline of Ashley Valenzuela, Lucy Brining, Kim Stocklmeir and Amy Willison has been critical to the team's success.

OFFENSE COMES ALIVE IN ARIZONA: Cal opened the Pac-10 season with a split in the desert, losing to Arizona State, 3-2, in the final minutes of the Oct. 10 game and shutting out Arizona, 3-0, on Oct. 12. After posting only 12 goals through the first 10 games (1.2 goals per game), the Bears' offense averaged 2.5 gpg over the weekend. Down 2-0 to the Sun Devils, freshman forward Katie Ratican and senior midfielder Kimberly Yokers tallied goals in the 54th and 82nd minutes, respectively, to even the game, but ASU's Stephanie Ebner's second goal of the contest in the 88th minute lifted her team to the win. Amy Willison was credited with the assist on Ratican's goal, and Ratican assisted on Yokers' score. In the victory over Arizona, Yokers tallied the game-winning goal, and freshmen Bri Wiles and Ratican followed with insurance goals. Cal freshman defender Nadia Al-Lami and sophomore forward Dania Cabello earned assists against Arizona.

YOKERS ASSUMES CAL POINTS LEAD: Kimberly Yokers ignited Cal's offense with two goals over the weekend and assumed the team's points (8) lead. The U.S. under-21 national team player from Seattle, is tied with senior midfielder Kassie Doubrava for team-high for goals with three. In 2002, Yokers tallied only five points (1G,. 3A).

FRESHMEN FABULOUS FOR BEARS: The Cal freshmen class, which was ranked No. 14 in the nation by Soccer Buzz, is living up to its billing. Three or four freshmen frequently start for the Bears and six regularly see significant minutes. In the win over Arizona, a season-record five freshmen earned the starting nod (Anna Key, Emily Ward, Nadia Al-Lami, Alivia Mazura and Katie Ratican). Ratican earned her first collegiate start against the Wildcats after posting a goal (first at Cal) and an assist against ASU. Ratican and Bri Wiles posted a goal vs. Arizona, and Al-Lami added an assist.

SCOUTING USC, UCLA: Three of USC's four losses have come against ranked opponents. Rosa Anne Tantillo leads the Trojans with 14 points (6G, 2A). UCLA's only loss (5-2) is to No. 1 North Carolina. Four different Bruins have tallied at least four goals in 2003, with Iris Mora leading the squad with 16 points (4G, 8A). Cal and USC are 4-4 all-time following the Trojans' 2-0 win in 2002, while the Bruins lead the Bears, 6-3, including a 1-0 triumph last season.

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