No. 18 Cal Plays at No. 4 Santa Clara in NCAA First Round

Nov. 11, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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CAL PLAYS SANTA CLARA IN NCAA FIRST ROUND: No. 18 California (11-5-3, 4-3-2 Pac-10) plays at No. 4 Santa Clara (14-4-2, 6-1 WCC) in the first round of the NCAA College Cup Friday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The winner of the Cal-Santa Clara game will face either No. 19 Stanford (12-5-3, 4-3-2 Pac-10) or Cal Poly (11-2-6, 5-1-3 Big West) in the second round Sunday, Nov. 14 at noon.

BEARS' NCAA HISTORY: Cal is making its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2004 and its sixth in the last seven years. The Bears are 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. The Bears earned five consecutive playoff spots from 1998-02 but missed the 2003 NCAA Tournament after posting a 7-8-4 record. Cal has four NCAA semifinal appearances to its credit - 1984, '87 and '88. In the Bears' last appearance in 2002, they defeated Denver, 2-0, in the first round before losing to Stanford, 1-0, in overtime. Current junior forward Dania Cabello tallied an assist on Cal's first goal against Denver.

THIS WEEK'S POLLS: For the eighth week in a row, Cal is nationally ranked. Soccer America has Cal at No. 18, and SoccerTimes ranks Cal No. 22. The Bears are receiving votes in the NSCAA and Soccer Buzz polls.

CAL TIES FOR FOURTH IN PAC-10: After tying for ninth in the Pac-10 in 2003 with a 2-6-1 record, Cal showed dramatic improvement in 2004 by tying for fourth with Stanford and Arizona State at 4-3-2. UCLA and Arizona shared the conference crown with 6-3 marks, and Cal handed the Bruins a 1-0 double overtime loss in Los Angeles and the Wildcats a 1-0 setback in Berkeley.

OTHER SIGNS OF IMPROVEMENT IN 2004: Cal posted four more wins (11) than it had in 2003 (7), scored 14 more goals (36) than a year ago (22) and allowed six fewer goals (14) than last season (20).

BEARS BOAST MULTIPLE SCORING THREATS: Twelve different players, including GK Ashley Sulprizio, have accounted for Cal's 36 goals this season, and eight players have posted at least two goals. Last season, Cal scored only 22 goals, and nobody had more than three goals. Junior forward Liz Eisenberg leads this year's squad with nine goals (21 points), while freshman forward Stephanie Wieger is second with seven goals (19 points), and junior midfielder Sierra Schlesinger is third with four goals (10 points). Cabello and sophomore forward Katie Ratican also have 10 points from three goals and four assists. Eisenberg netted a combined four points (2 goals) prior to this season. The Bears finished the regular season third in the Pac-10 in goals per game at 1.89, tied for second in total assists (34) and third for total points (106).

DEFENSE SPARKLES IN 2004: Despite having a completely new backline this season, Cal's defense proved to be one of its strengths. Sulprizio and sophomore Anna Key combined for the third-best goals-against average in the Pac-10 at 0.70 (24th in the nation). The goalkeeping duo also helped Cal post 11 shutouts in 19 games this season, for a 0.58 shutout percentage (12th in the nation). The 1988 Bears set the school record with 14 shutouts. Key played in nine games, made four starts, and recorded a 0.49 GAA, while Sulprizio started the 15 games she played in and posted a 0.79 GAA (3rd in Pac-10). Key's 547 minutes in goal weren't enough to qualify for the Pac-10 GAA leader list. The Bears started two freshmen at center backs - Courtney Hooker and Kristine Relja - and junior Tracy Hamm (right) and sophomore Alivia Mazura (left), who primarily played up top last year, at the other defender spots.

CLOSER LOOK AT THE MIDFIELD: The trio of Schlesinger, sophomore Nadia Al-Lami and freshman Chioma Igwe regularly start in Cal's midfield. Schlesinger had a breakout year, posting a career-best 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists), including a hat trick against Pacific. She had a total of three points in her first two seasons, primarily coming off the bench. Al-Lami, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection as a freshman, had a career-best eight points (three last year), and tied for second on the team with four assists. Igwe was slowed by a concussion at the beginning of the year but came on strong during the latter half of the season to post six points (1 goal, 4 assists). Her only goal was the game-winner in a 1-0 triumph at Washington State Nov. 5. Igwe spent the summer of 2004 training with the U.S. under-19 national team. Junior Lindsay Clute and freshman Laurie Gartrell provide a spark off the bench. Clute, who played a combined eight games as a freshman and sophomore and had no points, started eight of the 19 games she played in this year and tallied seven points (2 goals, 3 assists). Gartrell's only goal was the game-winner against Colgate.

SCOUTING SANTA CLARA: Santa Clara is the No. 16 seed in the NCAA College Cup and brings a seven-game winning streak into its game with Cal. The Broncos (14-4-2) earned an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the WCC title at 6-1. Santa Clara has allowed the same number of goals as Cal in 2004 (14) but has blanked its last six opponents. Four players have notched double-figure points, led by Tina Estrada with 18 (7G, 4A). Cal leads the all-time series with Santa Clara, 13-11-3, but the Broncos grabbed a 3-1 victory Oct. 6 during the regular season on their home field. Wieger scored the only goal for Cal with Ratican earning the assist. Cal's last victory over SCU was a 2-1 triumph in Berkeley in 2002. In 2000, the teams met in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Berkeley, and the Broncos shut out the Bears, 2-0.

SCOUTING STANFORD: Stanford (12-5-3) earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal lost to Washington, 1-0, in double overtime and tied Washington State, 0-0, during the final weekend of Pac-10 play. Marcie Ward leads Stanford in scoring with 18 points (8 goals, 2 assists). The Cardinal's 0.428 goals-against average ranks second in the country. Nicole Barnhart has seen the majority of Stanford's minutes in goal (0.44 GAA). Stanford holds a 9-11-3 series edge over Cal. The teams tied, 1-1, in double overtime in Berkeley Oct. 10, with Cal goalkeeper Ashley Sulprizio heading in a dramatic game-tying goal off a corner kick in the 88th minute. Cal last defeated Stanford in 2000 (2-0 in Berkeley). Cal and Stanford have met twice in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinal winning both games, 2-1, in 1993 in the opening round and 1-0 in overtime in the second round in 2002.

SCOUTING CAL POLY: Cal Poly (11-2-6) received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big West title with a 5-1-3 mark. The Mustangs are led in scoring by Sharon Day (18 points -11 goals, 1 assist). Goalkeeper Liz Mull owns a stellar 0.55 GAA. Cal is 3-1 all-time against Cal Poly, with the Bears claiming a 2-1 overtime decision in 1997 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.