No. 15 Cal Opens Season at San Jose State

Aug. 21, 2008

BERKELEY, Calif. - BEARS OPEN 2008 AT SAN JOSE STATE: Coming off a 7-0 exhibition win over Saint Mary's, No. 15 California opens the 2008 regular season at San Jose State Sunday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. The Golden Bears, who recorded a 15-5-1 overall record last season and tied for third in the Pac-10 at 6-3, were picked to finish fourth in the 2008 Pac-10 Preseason Coaches' Poll. San Jose State begins its season against Santa Clara Aug. 22. Cal hosts Cal State Fullerton in its regular-season home opener Aug. 29 at 4:30 p.m.

LAFONTAINE-KUSSMANN RETURNS TO THE FIELD: Redshirt freshman Jorden LaFontaine-Kussmann returns to the field this season after being diagnosed with lymphoma last October. She was declared cancer free in the spring and is one of three veteran goalkeepers on this year's team. Cal also features junior Gina Pellegrini (0.95 GAA in 1509 minutes as regular starter) and redshirt junior Rosie Aguilera, so the competition will be intense for the starting job.

CAL RETURNS THREE PAC-10 HONOR RECIPIENTS: Senior forward Valerie Barnes and sophomore forward Alex Morgan earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honor last season. Sophomore defender Megan Jesolva joined Morgan on the Pac-10 All-Freshman team, and both athletes were named Soccer Buzz Freshman All-Americans. Morgan spent the spring and summer competing for the U.S. under-20 national team, including at the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in June, which earned the U.S. a spot in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in November in Chile.

PRESEASON POLLS: Cal is ranked 17th in the NSCAA/adidas Top-25 Preseason Poll. Soccer Times has the Bears tabbed No. 15 in its preseason poll. Soccer America and Soccer Buzz haven't released their preseason polls yet.

YOUNG BEARS PURSUE 10th NCAA BID IN LAST 11 YEARS: Cal welcomes back six starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's team that secured the program's ninth NCAA Tournament berth in the last 10 years and posted at least 11 wins for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. This year's team also features six fourth-year members (three seniors and three redshirt juniors). But, the Bears will have to rely on 10 freshmen. Senior defender Nkechi Kanu will anchor the Bears' traditionally strong defense. Last season, Cal posted 11 shutouts and a 0.93 goals-against average. Alex Morgan is Cal's top returner for points (18) and goals (8). Valerie Barnes is coming off a breakout year that saw her record career highs for points (16), goals (7) and assists (2).

CAL FRESHMAN CLASS RANKED NO. 4 BY SOCCER BUZZ: Cal's freshman class was ranked No. 4 by Soccer Buzz, a women's college soccer Web site, after being tabbed No. 5 in 2007. Defender Danielle Brunache is ranked the highest of all of the Bears' newcomers at No. 23.

BEARS BLANK SAINT MARY'S, 7-0, IN EXHIBITION: No. 17 Cal led, 4-0, at halftime and went on to beat Saint Mary's, 7-0, in an Aug. 16 exhibition game at Edwards Stadium. Megan Jesolva started the scoring in the ninth minute. The Bears then received a goal from Lisa Kevorkian, an own goal by the Gaels, two goals from Alex Morgan, a goal by Nikki Schrey, and a final score by Katie Oakes. Freshman Katrin Omarsdottir chipped in two assists.

SCOUTING SAN JOSE STATE: San Jose State is coming off a 4-15-2 season. The Spartans are under the direction of first-year head coach Jeff Leightman, who was previously the head coach at Binghamton for 10 years. Cal is 3-0 all-time against San Jose State after downing the Spartans, 5-1, in the last meeting in 2004 in Saint Mary's tournament.

2007 SEASON IN REVIEW: Cal recorded a 15-5-1 overall record in 2007 and tied for third in the Pac-10 with a 6-3 conference mark. The Bears earned their fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid, beating Santa Clara, 2-0, in the opening round before tying Stanford, 1-1, but the Cardinal advanced to the third round after winning a 7-6 penalty-kick shootout.

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