No. 18 Cal to Play No. 4 Santa Clara in NCAA First Round

Nov. 8, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - The 18th-ranked California women's soccer team earned its 12th playoff selection Monday afternoon when the 64-team NCAA College Cup field was announced on ESPNews. The Golden Bears watched the selection show in the Club Room at Haas Pavilion, along with friends of the program and athletic department administration.

Cal will face 16th-seed Santa Clara (ranked No. 4 by Soccer America) Friday in the opening round of a four-team regional to be played at Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos are 14-4-2 this season. No. 19 Stanford (12-5-3) and Cal Poly (11-2-6) will play in the other game. The winners of both contests battle each other in the second round on Sunday. Game times will be announced later today. Cal lost to Santa Clara, 3-1, Oct. 6 at Santa Clara and tied Stanford, 1-1, in the Pac-10 opener in Berkeley Oct. 10. In 2000, Cal lost to Santa Clara, 2-0, in an NCAA first-round game in Berkeley.

'I felt fairly certain that we were going to be there playing Santa Clara,' said Cal head coach Kevin Boyd. 'I called exactly that bracket - us against Santa Clara and Stanford against Cal Poly. It's tradition. It's what (the NCAA) does. It's economically sound. That's why they did it. You have to play good teams to move on. We know that. It's a good experience for us.'

Cal finished the 2004 regular season with an 11-5-3 record (4-3-2 Pac-10, T4th) and is 4-3-2 against teams selected to this year's College Cup with wins coming against Arizona, UCLA, Creighton and Colgate and ties versus Stanford and Pepperdine. The losses are to North Carolina, Santa Clara and Washington.

Boyd, the winningest coach in Cal women's soccer history at 96-53-13 (.633), has led the Bears to the playoffs in six of his eight years at the helm of the program. In Cal's last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002, the Bears defeated Denver, 2-0, and lost to Stanford, 1-0, in overtime at Stanford's Maloney Field. The Bears' best NCAA Tournament performances were fifth place in both 1983 and 1986 and Final Four appearances in 1984, '87 and '88.

In 2004, Cal has netted 36 goals after posting only 22 goals in 2003. The Bears also have improved defensively, allowing only 14 goals, compared to 20 last season. Five players have tallied double-digit points, led by junior forward Liz Eisenberg (San Rafael, CA) with 21 points (9G, 3A) and freshman forward Stephanie Wieger (Concord, CA) with 19 points (7G, 5A). Junior midfielder Sierra Schlesinger (Napa, CA), junior forward Dania Cabello (Piedmont, CA) and sophomore forward Katie Ratican (Fullerton, CA) each have 10 points. Junior Ashley Sulprizio and sophomore Anna Key have combined for a 0.70 goals-against average.

'They are a great group,' said Boyd of his 2004 team. 'We have had fun with them all year. They are positive to be around. This is a group of younger players, with no seniors. Our backline was pretty much brand new this year. We've done well all things considered.'

The Pac-10 earned five bids to the NCAA Tournament - Cal, Arizona, UCLA, Washington and Stanford. The College Cup concludes Dec. 3 and 5 in Cary, N.C., at SAS Soccer Park. North Carolina State, the Capital Area Soccer League and the Town of Cary will serve as hosts.