No. 18 Bears Host Cal Invitational

Aug. 28, 2007

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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BEARS OPEN 2007 AS HOST OF CAL INVITE: Coming off a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, No. 18 California opens the 2007 season as host of the 13th-annual Cal Invitational. The tournament begins Friday, Aug. 31, with Saint Mary's battling Colorado College at 2 p.m. at Edwards Stadium, followed by Cal entertaining Columbia at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, Saint Mary's plays Columbia at noon, and the Bears meet Colorado College at 2:30 p.m. This weekend marks the first official games for Cal under the direction of first-year head coach Neil McGuire, who arrived in Berkeley after spending two seasons at Texas Tech. McGuire's team was picked to finish third in the Pac-10 in the preseason coaches' poll.

PRESEASON POLLS: Cal is ranked 18th in the NSCAA/adidas Top 25 Preseason Poll and No. 20 in the preseason Soccer Times Top 25 Poll. The Bears are receiving votes in the Soccer Buzz poll. Soccer America's preseason poll hasn't been released yet.

CAL RETURNS FOUR PAC-10 HONOR RECIPIENTS: Senior defender Courtney Hooker and senior midfielder Caroline Lea garnered second-team All-Pac-10 honors in 2006. Junior defender Nkechi Kanu earned honorable mention All-Pac-10, while sophomore midfielder Kelly Menachof earned a spot on the first-ever Pac-10 All-Freshman team.

VETERAN BEARS PURSUE NINTH NCAA BID IN LAST 10 YEARS: Cal welcomes back seven starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's team that secured the program's eighth NCAA Tournament berth in the last nine years and posted at least 11 wins for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons. This year's team also features six seniors who have an excellent chance of earning starting spots. Two of those seniors - All-American Courtney Hooker and Kristine Relja - anchor Cal's dominant back line, which helped the Bears post 12 shutouts and a 0.69 goals-against average last year. Senior forward Stephanie Wieger is Cal's top returner for points (9) and is tied with Kelly Menachof as the Bears' top returner for goals (3).

CAL FRESHMAN CLASS RANKED NO. 5 BY SOCCER BUZZ: Cal's freshman class was ranked No. 5 by Soccer Buzz, a women's college soccer Web site. The Bears bring in two top 15 recruits in Megan Jesolva (No. 10), who can play in the back, midfield or up top, and goalkeeper Jorden Kussmann (No. 12).

ROAD WARRIORS: Cal's 2007 regular-season schedule features 12 road/neutral games and only seven home games. It is unusual to have so few home games. Since Cal began playing soccer at Edwards Stadium in 1999, the Bears have never had fewer than nine home dates.

BEARS LOSE EXHIBITION: No. 18 Cal lost an exhibition game to UC Davis, 1-0, Aug. 24 at Aggie Soccer Stadium. The Golden Bears outshot Davis, 19-8, including six shots by Bears freshman forward Alex Morgan and five shots by sophomore forward Lisa Kevorkian. Cal sophomore Gina Pellegrini made three saves. Jordan Martin scored the lone goal in the 78th minute off an assist by freshman defender Lauren Huntley.

SCOUTING COLUMBIA, COLORADO COLLEGE: Columbia tallied a 10-5-3 record in 2006 and finished first in the Ivy League with a 6-0-1 mark. The Lions lost to Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This is the first meeting between Cal and Columbia. Colorado College, which lost in the first round of the postseason last year to Colorado, recorded a 15-6-1 record. Cal owns an 8-4-2 all-time series lead, including a 1-0 triumph in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2003.

2006 SEASON IN REVIEW: Cal recorded a 12-5-5 overall record in 2006 and placed sixth in the Pac-10 with a 3-3-3 conference mark. The Bears earned their third straight NCAA Tournament bid after defeating No. 4 Santa Clara, 1-0, in overtime and No. 11 Stanford, 1-0, during the final week of the regular season. Julia Schnugg tallied two goals and an assist in Cal's 3-1 triumph over Auburn in the first round of NCAAs, but the Bears lost to Florida State, 3-1, in the second round.