No. 10 Cal Opens Season at Wisconsin Invitational

Aug. 21, 2006

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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CAL BEGINS 2006 AT UW INVITATIONAL: Under the direction of 2005 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Kevin Boyd, No. 10 California opens the 2006 season against two Big Ten opponents at the Wisconsin Invitational Friday, Aug. 25, and Sunday, Aug. 27, in Madison, Wis. The Bears begin the tournament at the McClimon Soccer Complex against Indiana Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT before playing host Wisconsin Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.

PRESEASON POLLS: Cal is ranked as high as tied for 10th with Boston College in the preseason NSCAA poll, which tabbed the Bears ninth in the final 2005 poll. In other preseason polls, Soccer America chose the Bears 18th, and Soccer Buzz listed them 30th.

CAL LOOKS TO BUILD UPON STANDOUT 2005 SEASON: Cal, which returns five starters, finished 2005 with a 16-4-2 record and placed second in the Pac-10 with the Bears' best-ever mark of 7-1-1. Cal was picked to finish second in the 2006 Pac-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll. Last year, the Bears advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988, defeating Rice (2-0) and UTEP (2-1) before falling at Florida State (2-1).

DEFENSE SHOULD BE STRONG AGAIN: Cal's defense was dominant last season, setting or tying three school records, and is expected to excel again this year. The Bears' 0.475 goals-against average set a new Cal benchmark and ranked seventh nationally, and the team tied school records for shutouts (14, 1988) and goals allowed (11, 1987, `89). Senior Alivia Mazura and juniors Courtney Hooker and Kristine Relja return to anchor Cal's backline. Hooker earned second-team All-America from Soccer Buzz and first-team All-Pac-10 honors last fall and was named to Soccer Buzz's 2006 preseason All-America squad.

RATICAN, SCHNUGG LEAD BEARS' OFFENSE: Cal lost 67.5 percent (27 of 40 goals) of its scoring from last season but is confident this year's personnel can step up their production. Senior forwards Katie Ratican and Julia Schnugg are the team's top returners for points. Ratican posted a career-high 12 points in 2005 and paced the team with six assists. Schnugg registered six points (one goal, four assists). Cal must replace Liz Eisenberg, who led the team in scoring the last two years with 21 and 26 points, respectively. Directing Cal's attack from the midfield this year are senior Nadia Al-Lami (three-time honorable mention All-Pac-10) and junior Caroline Lea (second-team All-Pac-10 in 2005).

A LOOK AT THE NEWCOMERS: Freshmen midfielder/forward Katie Oakes (top 100 recruit by Soccer Buzz, West Hills, Calif.) and forward Lisa Kevorkian (143 goals as a prep, Monrovia, Calif.) headline the Bears' seven newcomers. Cal also welcomes goalkeepers Gina Pellegrini (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Rosie Aguilera (Piedmont, Calif., transfer from UC Irvine), defender Briana Bak (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), defender/midfielder Jessica Mazura (Newport Beach, Calif., sister of Alivia) and midfielder Kelly Menachof (Castle Rock, Colo.).

GOALKEEPER BATTLE INTENSE: Senior Anna Key, from Oakland, Calif., is the frontrunner for the starting goalkeeper duties. Key has started 19 of the 30 games she has entered for the Bears and owns a 0.93 goals-against average. Sophomore Nicole Jarbo, Pellegrini and Aguilera will challenge for minutes in the net.

TOUGH SCHEDULE IN 2006: Cal faces eight teams which advanced to last year's NCAA Tournament. The list includes four Pac-10 foes - UCLA, USC, Arizona, Stanford - and four non-conference oppoments - Santa Clara, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton and Vanderbilt. The Bears' schedule also features five teams in the NSCAA Preseason Top 25 Poll (UCLA, Arizona, Santa Clara, Vanderbilt and Cal State Fullerton).

SCOUTING INDIANA, WISCONSIN: Indiana posted a 7-10-2 record last season and tied for sixth in the Big Ten at 3-6-1. Wisconsin, which advanced to the 2005 NCAA Tournament, recorded a 13-9-2 record and also tied for sixth in the conference. Friday marks Cal's first-ever game against Indiana, while the Bears own a 3-2 series lead over Wisconsin. Cal defeated Wisconsin, 2-1, Aug. 29, 2003, in Berkeley in the last meeting.

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