No. 15 Bears Host 14th-Annual Cal Invitational

Aug. 26, 2008

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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BEARS HOST CAL INVITE: After winning its eighth straight season opener, No. 15 California serves as host of the 14th-annual Cal Invitational Friday, Aug. 29 and Sunday, Aug. 31. The tournament actually opens in Moraga, Calif., with Saint Mary's (1-0) playing Saint Joseph's (0-0) at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary's Stadium. Cal (1-0) meets Cal State Fullerton (1-0) at 4:30 p.m. at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. Sunday's action begins with Saint Mary's battling Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. in Berkeley, and concludes with Cal vs. Saint Joseph's. Please note that the Cal vs. Missouri home game has been changed to Sept. 6 at 11 a.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 IN THE POLLS: Cal stayed the same in all three polls this week. Soccer Times has the Bears tabbed No. 15, the NSCAA puts the Bears 17th, and Soccer America kept Cal at No. 19.

BEARS OPEN SEASON WITH 3-1 WIN OVER SAN JOSE STATE: Cal opened the 2008 season with a 3-1 road victory over San Jose State Aug. 24, marking the Bears eighth straight season-opening win. Redshirt sophomore forward Lisa Kevorkian posted the first two goals for Cal, and sophomore forward Alex Morgan netted a goal and two assists. Cal led 1-0 at the half before San Jose State briefly tied up the game. Cal redshirt junior forward Katherine Daiss and redshirt freshman forward Natasha Richardson also earned assists in the game. Cal outshot San Jose State, 33-8. Cal junior goalkeeper Gina Pellegrini, who was honored as the Italian-American Amateur Athlete of the Year earlier this month, made three saves.

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.

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.

SCOUTING CAL STATE FULLERTON, SAINT JOSEPH'S: Cal State Fullerton, which posted a 12-8-2 record in 2007, opened 2008 with a 1-0 victory over Pepperdine. The Titans defeated the Bears, 2-1, in overtime in Fullerton last season. Cal State Fullerton owns a 1-0-1 series lead over Cal. Saint Joseph's, which recorded 3-15-1 record in 2007, opens its season against Saint Mary's Aug. 29. This is the first meeting between Cal and Saint Joseph's.

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