No. 20 Cal Opens Season vs. Sac State

Aug. 31, 2004

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Wednesday, Sept. 1, Sacramento State, Edwards Stadium, Berkeley, CA, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 4, San Diego State, Edwards Stadium, Berkeley, CA, 2:00 p.m.WHAT'S ON TAP: Riding high with a College Soccer News preseason No. 20-national ranking, California opens the 2004 regular season against Sacramento State Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Edwards Stadium. The Golden Bears are coming off of a successful 11-9-2 season (5-4-1 Pac-10, T-3rd), and are preseason picks to finish second in the Pac-10. Sacramento State was 5-11-2 last fall (2-3-1 MPSF, 5th). The Bears close out the week with a home game against San Diego State (9-8-3, 2-2-2 MPSF, 4th) Saturday at 2 p.m. Overall, the Bears are 16-6-3 against Sacramento State, and are even with San Diego State at 9-9-1.CAL DEFEATS USF IN EXHIBITION: Cal knocked off the University of San Francisco, 2-0, on Aug. 27 at USF's Negoesco Field. Senior Carl Acosta, last season's leading scorer with nine goals, netted the game winner, while sophomore Andrew Felder converted a second-half penalty kick to seal Cal's win.BEARS PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN PAC-10: The Pac-10 preseason coaches poll tabbed Cal to finish second in the Pac-10. The Bears received 13 points in the poll with one first-place vote. UCLA, last year's conference champions, finished first with 14 points. UCLA and Cal were followed in the poll by Washington (10), Stanford (8) and Oregon State(5). Cal finished tied for third last year in the Pac-10.2004 SEASON OUTLOOK: With all 11 starters from Cal's record-setting 2003 lineup returning, the Golden Bears look poised to make history once again this year, vying for their fourth consecutive NCAA berth. Fifth-year coach Kevin Grimes will look to his six seniors, all 2003 postseason honorees, to lead the Bears deep into the NCAA Tournament.Last season marked the third year in a row that the Bears earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Their 2-0 first-round win over San Jose State in 2003 was Cal's second postseason victory in school history.While Cal loses four seniors from last year's squad, they retain all 11 starters and welcome back several key players who were lost to injuries last season. Grimes also looks forward to the play of five talented newcomers, four incoming freshmen and a junior transfer, who all look to contribute immediately.Cal hopes to pick up where it left off last year, having ended the regular season with a four-game winning streak which extended through the first round of the NCAA Tournament.SENIOR DUTIES: This year's squad is led by six seniors, the same six who formed Grimes' first recruiting class and jump-started Cal's resurgence to national prominance. Seniors Carl Acosta, Yohei Fukuda, Noah Merl, Mike Munoz, Kyle Navarro, and Troy Roberts have combined over the past three season for 334 starts, 44 goals and 35 assists. All six starters figure to play a signifcant role on the team, with Acosta leading the offense up front, Fukuda and Munoz showcasing their playmaking abilities in the midfield, and Munoz, Navarro and Roberts anchoring the backline.DEMANDING SCHEDULE: The Bears face one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Four of this year's opponents were conference champions last year: San Jose State (MPSF), Brown (Ivy League), Santa Clara (WCC) and UCLA (Pac-10). Three of these four--Brown (No. 21), Santa Clara (No. 5) and UCLA (No. 7)--went on to receive preseason top-25 national rankings.BEARS AT HOME: Wednesday's match against Sacramento State is the first of a four-game homestand for the Bears. After playing San Diego State on Sept. 4, the Bears will face San Diego on Sept. 10 in the adidas Cal Legacy Classic, then closing out the tournament and homestand with a Sept. 12 match against San Jose State.

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