No. 21 Cal Faces Auburn in NCAA First Round
Nov. 8, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
CAL MEETS AUBURN IN NCAA FIRST ROUND: After posting two dramatic victories over top-15 ranked opponents in the final week of the regular-season, No. 21 California (11-4-5, 3-3-3 Pac-10) faces Auburn in the first round of the NCAA College Cup Friday, Nov. 10, at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla. Cal and Auburn (11-5-3, 5-3-3 SEC) play at 8 p.m. ET, after No. 2-seeded Florida State (14-3-4, 5-2-3 ACC) entertains Jacksonville (11-9-1, 4-5 Atlantic Sun) at 5:30 p.m. ET. The winners of those first-round matchups battle in the second round Sunday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. ET in Tallahassee. Cal senior forward Julia Schnugg played her freshman and sophomore seasons at Florida State, helping the Seminoles to the NCAA Semifinals. She was a second-team All-ACC performer as a sophomore.
BEARS' NCAA HISTORY: Cal is making its 14th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006 and its eighth in the last nine years. The Bears are 2-1-3 against teams selected to this year's NCAA College Cup, with wins coming against Santa Clara and Stanford. The ties were to Cal State Fullerton, USC and Vanderbilt, while the loss was to UCLA. Cal is 3-0-1 over its last four games, including wins over No. 4 Santa Clara (1-0 OT) and No. 11 Stanford (1-0). The Bears earned five consecutive playoff spots from 1998-02 but missed the 2003 NCAA Tournament after posting a 7-8-4 record. Cal has three NCAA semifinal appearances to its credit - 1984, '87 and '88. In the Bears' last NCAA appearance in 2005, they advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988, falling to No. 2-seeded Florida State, 2-1. Cal opened the 2005 NCAAs with wins over Rice (2-0) and UTEP (2-1) in Austin, Texas.
CAL SIXTH IN PAC-10: After finishing second in the Pac-10 in 2005 with a school-record 7-1-1 mark, Cal placed sixth in the conference this season with a 3-3-3 record. UCLA took top honors for the fourth straight season with an 8-1 record. Oregon placed second at 6-1-2 (12-6-2 overall) but did not make the NCAA Tournament after posting its best season in school history. Stanford took third at 6-2-1, followed by Washington State (4-3-2) and USC (3-4-2). Arizona State, Washington, Arizona and Oregon were at the bottom. UCLA, Stanford and USC join Cal in the NCAA Tournament, marking the ninth straight year the Pac-10 has received at least four postseason berths.
THE POLLS: After a one-week absence in the polls, Cal is ranked again this week. Soccer Times ranks Cal No. 21, while the NSCAA tabs the Bears No. 24 and Soccer Buzz lists them at No. 27. Cal is unranked according to Soccer America.
CAL CLINCHES NCAA BERTH WITH WINS OVER NO. 4 SANTA CLARA, NO. 11 STANFORD: Junior reserve forward Stephanie Wieger converted a 22-yard chip shot in the sixth minute of overtime to lift California to a 1-0 victory over No. 4 Santa Clara Nov. 1. Santa Clara owned a 10-6 shot advantage, but Cal held a 3-0 shot edge in extra minutes. Sophomore defender/forward Nkechi Kanu was credited with an assist on the goal. The Bears were 0-0-5 in their previous six overtime games this season. Freshman defender Brianna Bak scored her first goal of the season in the 89th minute to propel Cal to a 1-0 victory over No. 11 Stanford Nov. 5 in the regular-season finale. Freshman forward Lisa Kevorkian earned the assist, as Bak knocked in the rebound of Kevorkian's shot off the cross bar.
WIEGER HAS FLARE FOR DRAMATIC: In 2004, Stephanie Wieger netted the game-winning goal in a 1-0 triumph over No. 6 UCLA in the 105th minute in Los Angeles. During that freshman season, Wieger finished second on the team in points (19) and goals (7) and shared team-high honors in assists (5). The Concord product had only two points as a sophomore as she played on two injured ankles. In 2006, she is third on the Bears with eight points (3G, 2A).
RATICAN LEADS MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CAL ATTACK: Katie Ratican leads Cal with career highs of 13 points and five goals. She also paces the team with three assists. The product of Fullerton, Calif., has improved her output each year at Cal - seven points (2003), 10 points (2004) and 12 points (2005). Prior to 2006, her career high for goals was three in 2004 and 2005. Eleven players have accounted for the Bears' 24 goals, with Julia Schnugg second on the team with four goals (nine total points). Kelly Menachof and Stephanie Wieger are tied for third on the team with three goals. Junior forward Bri Wiles and sophomore forward Valerie Barnes have tallied two goals each.
DEFENSE RETURNS TO EARLY SEASON FORM: Cal boasts a 0.568 goals-against average (20th nationally) and has posted 12 shutouts this season (20th nationally for shutout percentage at .600.) The Bears opened the season with four straight shutouts and enter the NCAA Tournament on a streak of four consecutive shutouts. Cal only earned four shutouts during the middle 12 games, but the team also battled a series of injuries to its backline. With the exception of junior Kristine Relja, who tore her ACL against Boise State Sept. 22, Cal's backline is healthy and playing well. This season's stellar defensive effort is on the heels of the 2005 team's record-setting year. Last season, Cal set a school record with a 0.47 GAA and tied school marks for goals allowed (11) and shutouts (14).
KEY, PELLEGRINI SHARE TIME IN GOAL: Senior Anna Key and freshman Gina Pellegrini have been a strong one-two punch in goal for the Bears this year. Key has allowed 11 of Cal's goals, earning a 0.75 GAA in 1321 minutes in goal. Pellegrini boasts a 0.15 GAA after allowing only one goal (an own goal) in 584 minutes in the net. Pellegrini would be the national GAA leader if she played at least 50 percent of Cal's minutes. Redshirt sophomore Nicole Jarbo and sophomore Rosie Aguilera give the Bears depth in goal.
WENDELL EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRIC HONORS: Cal senior midfielder Jenny Wendell, who leads the team with a 3.9 GPA, was named to the CoSIDA second-team Academic All-District VIII team. The English major studied at Oxford during the spring semester earlier this year and was a member of the school's novice rowing team.
BEAR BITS: Junior midfielder Caroline Lea, a second-team All-Pac-10 selection last year, has seen some action on Cal's backline due to injuries and has contributed to the Bears' defense (0.57 GAA). Lea was named to Soccer Buzz's National Team of the Week for her play against Santa Clara and Stanford. Nadia Al-Lami (three-time honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection) and Courtney Hooker (two-time All-Pac-10 pick) are the only two Cal players who have started all 20 games this season. Cal has outshot its opponents, 243-149.
DID YOU KNOW: Senior goalkeeper Anna Key was named the 2006 NCAA Division I Sportsmanship Award winner for her work helping the children of Malawi. Sophomore defender Nkechi Kanu spent two summers interning at NASA. Senior defender Alivia Mazura is joined by her freshman sister, Jessica, on this year's Cal team. Julia Schnugg's sister, Stephanie, is a sophomore on the Cal water polo team, and their father, Peter, played water polo at Cal from 1969-73, earning the 1973 NCAA Player of the Year award.
SCOUTING AUBURN: Cal has a 0-0 record against Auburn, which has an 11-5-3 record (5-3-3 SEC). Freshman forward Caitlin King leads the Tigers in scoring (15 points), assists (5) and game-winning goals (3). She is tied with senior forward Kristin Stewart for the team lead in goals (5). Allison Whitworth, a 5-9 sophomore goalkeeper, has a 0.99 goals-against average in 19 games. Karen Richter, the 1990 NCAA Goalkeeper of the Year while at Central Florida, is in her eighth year as head coach of Auburn.
SCOUTING FLORIDA STATE: Cal has an 0-1 record in the all-time series with Florida State, which ended the Bears' season in the third round of the College Cup last season with a 2-1 triumph. The game was scoreless at the half before the Seminoles jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Katie Ratican scored for the Bears in the final minute of play, with Nkechi Kanu and Tracy Hamm earning assists. The No. 5-ranked Seminoles enter the NCAA College Cup with a 14-3-4 record (5-2-3 ACC). Junior forward Selin Kuraly leads FSU in scoring (23 points), goalscoring (11) and game-winning goals (5). The Australia product also has one assist and converted the Seminoles' lone penalty kick this season. Freshman midfielder Becky Edwards leads FSU with seven assists. Ali Mims, a 5-10 senior goalkeeper, has a 0.60 GAA in 21 starts. Mark Krikorian, a former coach in the now-defunct WUSA professional league, is in his second season as head coach of Florida State.
SCOUTING JACKSONVILLE: This will be the first meeting between Cal and Jacksonville, which ended the regular season with an 11-9-1 record (4-5) Atlantic Sun Conference). Sophomore forward Keri Zwikker leads the Atlantic Sun champion Dolphins in scoring (23 points), goalscoring (10) and game-winning goals (4). The 5-8 product of Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, also has three assists and successfully converted Jacksonville's only penalty kick this season. JU senior goalkeeper Michelle Kmiotek has a 1.58 goals-against average in 21 starts. Chris Kouns is in his third season as head coach of the Dolphins.