Cal Opens 2004 vs. Creighton, No. 1 North Carolina

Aug. 23, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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CAL OPENS SEASON IN NEBRASKA: Boasting the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the country, California opens the 2004 season at the Nebraska adidas Classic, Friday and Sunday, Aug. 27 and 29. The Golden Bears battle Creighton on Friday before taking on No. 1 North Carolina, the defending NCAA champion, on Sunday. Cal is coming off a frustrating 7-8-4 season (2-6-1 Pac-10, T9th), while Creighton was 11-6-4 and UNC posted won its 18th national title with a 27-0 mark.Tar Heels Heather O'Reilly and Lindsay Tarpley look to help the United States to an Olympic gold medal Thursday and are not expected to play this weekend in Nebraska. Cal has never played Creighton before and is 0-8 liftime against North Carolina.SULPRIZIO RETURNS TO NEBRASKA: Cal junior goalkeeper Ashley Sulprizio redshirted the 2001 season at Nebraska before transferring to Cal with four years olf eligibility. She started seven games for the Bears as a redshirt freshman in 2002 and four as a sophomore before breaking her thumb and missing the rest of 2003. She played all 90 minutes of Cal's 3-0 win vs. UC Davis Aug. 20.CAL EYES RETURN TO NCAAS: Cal opens the 2004 season in pursuit of its 12th NCAA Tournament bid. After finishing with a below .500 record for the first time in eight years, the Bears failed to advance to the postseason in 2003 for the first time in six seasons. In 2002, the Bears tallied their first NCAA victory since 1988 with a 2-0 opening-round win over No. 19-ranked Denver.BEARS BOAST TOP 10 RECRUITING CLASS: Headlined by freshman midfielder Chioma Igwe (Belmont, CA) and freshman midfielder/forward Caroline Lea (Lakewood, CO), Cal boasts the 10th-ranked recruiting class in the country and best on the West Coast, according to both Soccer America and Soccer Buzz. Igwe is an alternate for the United States at the 2004 U19 World Championships, while both athletes are listed among the Top 25 newcomers in the nation, according to Soccer Buzz. Soccer America ranks Igwe No. 17 on its Top 25 recruiting list.YOUTH IS SERVED IN 2004: Cal returns 14 letterwinners and five starters from last year's squad, but none of the returners are seniors. The returning starters are defenders Alivia Mazura (sophomore, 2003 Freshman of the Year) and Tracy Hamm (junior), sophomore midfielder Nadia Al-Lami (2003 honorable mention All-Pac-10), junior forward Dania Cabello and sophomore goalkeeper Anna Key. However, there will be ample competition for starting spots this season. For example, Key, Sulprizio and freshman Nicole Jarbo will vie for the starting nod in goal.TOUGH SCHEDULE IN 2004: Eight of the 19 teams Cal plays in 2004 advanced to the 2003 NCAA Tournament - North Carolina, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, Stanford, Arizona State, USC, UCLA and Washington.CAL BLANKS UC DAVIS IN EXHIBITION: Cabello, Liz Eisenberg and Lea scored goals in Cal's 3-0 shutout of UC Davis in an exhibition at Edwards Stadium Aug. 20. Eisenberg also assisted on Lea's goal and led the Bears with three shots on goal.DID YOU KNOW: Alum Joy Fawcett (1986-89) is competing in her third Olympics and is expected to retire after the 2004 Athens Games. Fawcett joins Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly as one of four U.S. players who have played in four World Cups (1991, '95, '99 and '03). Fawcett, 36, is the Bears' only three-time All-American in the program's history.

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