No. 10 Bears Host 12th-Annual Cal Invitational
Aug. 29, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
BEARS HOST CAL INVITE: After posting two road shutouts to start the season, No. 10 California (2-0) hosts the 12th-annual Cal Invitational Labor Day Weekend at Edwards Stadium. The tournament kicks off Friday, Sept. 1, with Saint Mary's (1-0) hosting No. 15 Cal State Fullrton (1-0) at 2 p.m., followed by Cal vs. Kansas (1-0) at 4:30 p.m. Action continues Sunday, Sept. 3, with Saint Mary's facing Kansas at 10 a.m., before the Bears entertain Cal State Fullerton at 1 p.m. The Bears claimed the 2005 Cal Invite with wins over Montana (3-1) and UC Santa Barbara (1-0).
RANKINGS: Cal is ranked as high as tied for 10th with Boston College in the preseason NSCAA poll, which doesn't release a new poll until Sept. 5. Cal climbed from No. 18 to No. 13 in the Soccer America poll, and improved from 13th to 11th in the Soccer Times poll. Cal made its biggest jump according to Soccer Buzz, climbing from No. 30 to No. 15.
CAL OPENS 2006 WITH TWO SHUTOUTS: Cal opened the 2006 season with a 1-0 triumph over Indiana Aug. 25 on a goal from sophomore reserve forward Valerie Barnes in the 40th minute. It marked the Bears' seventh consecutive season-opening win. Redshirt freshman forward Torrey Delaplane earned the assist. Senior goalkeeper Anna Key secured three saves against the Hoosiers. With a 1-0 victory over host Wisconsin Aug. 27, the Bears claimed the Wisconsin Invitational. Barnes notched the game-winning goal against the Badgers, as well, off a long free kick from freshman defender Brianna Bak. Key grabbed four saves. Barnes has netted the game-winning goal in Cal's last three wins, dating back to a 2-1 decision over UTEP in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament. The Martinez, Calif., product posted only two goals and one assist all of last season.
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. Mazura was selected the MVP of the Wisconsin Invitational last weekend.
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).
SCOUTING KANSAS, CAL STATE FULLERTON: After recording an 11-7-2 mark in 2005, Kansas started 2006 with a 3-0 victory over Furman with three different players scoring. Cal State Fullerton (19-4 in 2005), which is ranked No. 15 according to the NSCAA, blanked Idaho, 4-0, in its first game behind goals from four different athletes. The Titans are the second of eight 2005 NCAA Tournament teams Cal battles this season. This is the first-ever meeting between Cal and Kansas, while the Titans hold a 1-0 edge over the Bears with a 1-0 win Sept. 7, 1997, in Fullerton.