No. 16 Cal Faces Air Force, Vanderbilt at SMC Fall Classic
Sept. 5, 2006
BERKELEY, Calif. -
CAL TRAVELS TO SMC FALL CLASSIC: No. 16 California (3-0-1), which hasn't allowed a goal in 2006, competes at the Saint Mary's Fall Soccer Classic Thursday, Sept. 7, and Saturday, Sept. 9, at Saint Mary's Stadium in Moraga. The Bears battle Air Force (0-3-1) Thursday at 2 p.m. and face Vanderbilt (1-1-2) Saturday at 11 a.m. Cal is the only Pac-10 team without a loss this season.
RANKINGS: Cal is ranked as high as 16th in the NSCAA and Soccer Buzz polls after being tabbed 10th and 15th, respectively, last week. The Bears fell from No. 13 to No. 18, according to Soccer America. Soccer Times, which had Cal at No. 11 last week, hasn't released a new poll yet.
BEARS BEAT KANSAS, TIE CAL STATE FULLERTON: Cal earned a share of its own Cal Invitational with a 1-0 shutout of Kansas Sept. 1 and a 0-0 double-over time vs. No. 15 Cal State Fullerton Sept. 3. Cal senior midfielder Nadia Al-Lami was named the co-MVP of the tournament after posting the game-winning goal against the Jayhawks in the fifth minute and playing tough defense in both games. Al-Lami scored off a corner kick taken by senior forward Katie Ratican. The goal was Al-Lami's first of the season and sixth of her career, while the assist was Ratican's first of 2006 and 14th of her career. Last season, Ratican paced the Bears with six assists. Cal held Kansas to six shots (two on goal) and limited Cal State Fullerton to three shots (one on goal).
MAZURA, RELJA EARN ALL-TOURNEY HONORS: Senior defender Alivia Mazura and junior defender Kristine Relja joined Al-Lami on the Cal Invitational all-tournament team. Last week, Mazura was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and to Soccer America and Soccer Buzz's Team of the Week after being picked the MVP of the Wisconsin Invitational.
MORE ON THE BACKLINE: Mazura, Relja and junior All-American defender Courtney Hooker have been regular starters on the Bears backline since the 2004 season, helping the team post 29 shutouts in 46 games and allow a total of only 27 goals. With the graduation of second-team All-Pac-10 defender Tracy Hamm, sophomore Nkechi Kanu completes the Bears' starting backline this year. Kanu twice interned for NASA in Mountain View. Freshman Brianna Bak has excelled early on as a backup to Kanu.
SHUTOUT MANIA: Cal is the only Pac-10 team with the distinction of allowing no goals so far this season. Senior goalkeeper Anna Key has played all 290 minutes in goal to earn all four shutouts, moving her career total to 12. Key started 14-of-15 games she played as a freshman before serving primarily as a reserve the last two seasons. The Oakland, Calif., product was named the 2006 NCAA Division I Female Sportsmanship Award winner for the work she has done to help the children of Malawi and the country's women's soccer federation. Cal has posted shutouts in 18 of its last 26 games, dating back to last year when the Bears tied the school season record of 14. The 1984 Bears tallied seven consecutive shutouts to set a school record.
BEAR BITS: Sophomore forward Valerie Barnes, who leads Cal in points (4, T4th in Pac-10) and goals (2, T2nd Pac-10) this season earnered her first career start against Cal State Fullerton...both of Barnes' two shots were on goal against the Titans...58.6 percent (17-of-29) of Cal's shots have been on goal in 2006, compared to just 36.8 (7-of-19) by its opponents.
SCOUTING AIR FORCE, VANDERBILT: Air Force is 0-3-1 and has yet to score a goal this season while allowing six (1.42 GAA). The Falcons tied Bucknell, 0-0, Sept. 1. Vanderbilt (1-1-2), which was ranked No. 22 in the preseason NSCAA poll, beat Dartmouth, 3-2, Sept. 3. Lea Lafield has accounted for two of the Commodores' four goals. This week is the first time Cal will face Air Force and Vanderbilt.