No. 6 Cal Plays Rice in First Round of NCAA College Cup

Nov. 8, 2005

BERKELEY, Calif. -

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NO. 6 CAL FACES RICE IN NCAA FIRST-ROUND GAME: After posting its best record since 2000 and earning its highest ranking of the year, No. 6 California (No. 3 seed) opens the 2005 NCAA College Cup against Rice (13-6-1 overall, 6-2-1 C-USA) Friday, Nov. 11 at Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. Cal (14-3-2, 7-1-1 Pac-10) and Rice play at 4 p.m. CT (2 p.m. PT), and host-Texas (11-8-1, 6-4 Big 12) entertains UTEP (19-3-1, 6-2-1 C-USA) at 6:30 p.m. The winners of each game battle on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.

BEARS' NCAA HISTORY: Cal is making its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005 and its seventh in the last eight years. This year marks only the second time the Bears have earned a seed in the tournament (2000, 17-3-1, No. 8 under a different seeding format). The Bears are 5-3-1 against teams selected to this year's College Cup with wins coming against Stanford, USC, Southern Methodist, Dartmouth and Utah and a tie versus Arizona. The losses are to Santa Clara, BYU and UCLA. 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 three NCAA semifinal appearances to its credit - 1984, '87 and '88. In the Bears' last NCAA appearance in 2004, they lost to Santa Clara, 2-1, on the road in the first round after jumping out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Nadia Al-Lami. Chioma Igwe was credited with the assist on the corner kick.

CAL SECOND IN PAC-10: Cal finished second in the Pac-10 this season with a school-record 7-1-1 mark. This is the Bears' highest finish since also placing second (7-2) in 2000. UCLA took top honors for the third straight season with a 7-0-2 record. USC placed third at 6-2-1, followed by Stanford at 4-3-2. Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State tied for fifth at 4-4-1. Oregon State took eighth at 3-5-1, Oregon was ninth at 1-8 and Washingon finished last at 0-9.

THE POLLS: Cal is ranked a season best of No. 6 by the NSCAA. Soccer America, Soccer Buzz and SoccerTimes have the Bears tabbed No. 8.

CAL SWEEPS OREGON, OSU: Cal defeated Oregon, 5-0, Nov. 4 and Oregon State, 4-0, Nov. 6 to close out the regular season on the road. Five different Cal players scored against the Ducks - Liz Eisenberg, Valerie Barnes, Julia Schnugg, Dania Cabello and Katherine Daiss. The goals by Barnes, Schnugg and Daiss were their first of 2005. Schnugg was also credited with an assist on Cabello's goal. Against the Beavers, Eisenberg netted the first two goals and assisted on the third goal, scored by Cabello. Eisenberg earned the game-winning goal in both games. Chioma Igwe capped the scoring with her first goal of the season in the 74th minute. Ashley Sulprizio and Anna Key combined in goal to post the Bears' 12th and 13th shutouts of the season.

CAL DEFENSE NO. 5 NATIONALLY: Cal ranks No. 5 in the nation in goals-against average (0.397) after allowing only eight goals (one PK, one own goal) in about 1,815 minutes. The Bears are sixth in the country for shutout percentage at 0.68 (13-of-19 games). Ashley Sulprizio ranks sixth nationally in GAA at 0.38 (seven goals, 18 games, 1,645 minutes). Sulprizio has recorded nine of Cal's 13 shutouts and has 19 for her career (fourth all-time at Cal). She is chasing Noreen Paris' 1985 school record for GAA in a season (0.45) and Karen Cook's 1996 Cal record for shutouts in a season (11). The 1987 and 1989 Cal teams set the school record for fewest goals allowed (11). The 1988 squad recorded the school records for GAA (0.52) and shutouts (14).

SULPRIZIO CLIMBING CAL CAREER CHARTS: In addition to challenging Cal's season records for shutouts and goals-against average, Ashley Sulprizio has her name etched in the Bears' career charts. After transferring to Cal after redshirting the 2001 season at Nebraska, Sulprizio has posted 19 shutouts and a 0.714 career goals-against average. She ranks fourth in school history in shutouts, behind Maite Zabala (26.5, 1997-00, current Cal assistant coach), Karen Cook (22, 1993-96) and Olympian Mary Harvey (20, 1983-86). Sulprizio, who hails from Gardnerville, Nev., stands third in Cal history for career goals-against average, behind Noreen Paris (0.46, 1985-88) and Linn Gassaway (0.64, 1987-88).

BEARS BOAST CONSISTENT BACKLINE: Cal's backline deserves a lot of the credit for the Bears' stellar defense in 2005. Senior Tracy Hamm, junior Alivia Mazura and sophomores Courtney Hooker and Kristine Relja started 18 of the team's 19 games this year. Relja didn't start the last game of the year against Oregon State after securing a red card at Oregon. Freshman Nkechi Kanu earned her first start in Relja's place. Kanu and junior Emily Ward add talented depth to Cal's backline.

ENTIRE TEAM RETURNS FROM 2004: After losing nobody from last year's 11-6-3 team and adding some talented players, it's no wonder the Bears have performed well in 2005. This year's team features six seniors and two redshirt juniors. The seniors either start or play significant roles. That group features goalkeeper Ashley Sulprizio, defender Tracy Hamm, midfielders Sierra Schlesinger and Lindsay Clute and forwards Liz Eisenberg and Dania Cabello.

EISENBERG LEADS CAL ATTACK: Senior forward Liz Eisenberg leads Cal in points, goals and game-winning goals for the second consecutive season. After recording 21 points and nine goals (three game winners) as a junior, the San Rafael, Calif., product paces the Bears with 23 points, 10 goals - including six game winners - this year. In the last three games, she has recorded four goals and an assist. Eisenberg's three assists were on goals by Dania Cabello. Four of Cabello's five assists were on Eisenberg goals.

CABELLO, RATICAN SHARE TEAM ASSISTS LEAD: Senior forward Dania Cabello is tied with junior forward Katie Ratican for first on the team with five assists. Cabello is second on the team in points (17) and goals (6). For her career, Cabello is tied for fourth in school history with Erika Hinton (1990-93) with 18 assists. One of Cabello's assists came in Cal's 2002 NCAA first round win over Denver. Ratican has 12 career assists.

2005 HONORS: Liz Eisenberg was named Pac-10 Player of the Week and to Soccer America and Soccer Buzz's National Team of the Week for her play against Dartmouth Sept. 9 and Southern Methodist Sept. 11. Tracy Hamm receieved both publications Team of the Week honors for her performances against Washington Oct. 7 and Washington State Oct. 9, and Courtney Hooker echoed Hamm's honors for her defensive prowess at Arizona Oct. 21 at Arizona State Oct. 23.

SCOUTING RICE: Rice carries a 13-6-1 record into the NCAA Touranment. The Owls tied for third in Conference USA with a 6-2-1 mark and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Touranment by winning their conference's postseason tournament. Redshirt freshman forward Caitlin Robbins leads Rice with 35 points (14 goals, seven assists). The Owls have netted 45 goals in 2005, while allowing 18. This marks the first meeting between Cal and Rice.

SCOUTING TEXAS: Texas boasts an 11-8-1 overall record (6-4 Big 12, sixth) as the Longhorns enter their sixth straight and overall NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season, Texas advanced to the round of 16 before losing to then-No. 6 Portland, to mark the program's longest run in tourney play. This year, sophomore midfielder Caitlin Kennedy lead a quintent of double-digit point scorers with 16 points (six goals, four assists). Cal and Texas are tied 1-1 in the all-time series. In 2001, Cal defated Texas, 2-1, in Austin, and lost to the Longhorns, 2-1, in Berkeley in 2002.

SCOUTING UTEP: UTEP earned its first NCAA touranment selection with a 19-3-1 record and tied for third in Conference USA with a 6-2-1 mark. UTEP has scored 67 goals this season, while allowing 28. Junior midfielder Melissa Abraham leads a potent attack with 35 points from 16 goals and three assists. Cal and UTEP have never faced each other.

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