No. 11 Cal Plays No. 16 Santa Clara 1st Round of NCAA Tournament
Nov. 12, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. - Riding a six-game winning streak, the 11th-ranked California women's soccer team faces 16th-ranked Santa Clara in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears earned their 15th playoff selection, ninth in the last 10 years and fourth straight Monday evening when the 64-team NCAA Tournament field was announced on ESPNews. The team, administrators, media and friends of the program gathered in Haas Pavilion to watch the selection show.
Cal (14-5, 6-3 Pac-10, T3rd) plays Santa Clara (12-5-3, 4-3 WCC, 3rd) in the opening round Friday, Nov. 16, at 4:30 p.m. at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium in Stanford, Calif. The winner of the Golden Bears-Broncos game meets the winner of the No. 2-seeded Stanford (14-2-4, 5-1-3 Pac-10, T3rd) vs. Sacramento State (11-3-5, 4-0-3 Big Sky, 1st) first-round contest on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. at the same venue. Second-ranked Stanford and Sacramento State play each other Friday at 7 p.m.
'There was an expectation based on location and the geographic nature of the way the NCAA does things that we were going to play Santa Clara in the first round and hopefully Stanford or another team in the second round,' said first-year Cal head coach Neil McGuire, whose team is ranked as high as 11th by Soccer America. 'We were expecting this. We have full respect for Santa Clara, Stanford and Sacramento State and will prepare accordingly. We'll try our very best.'
Cal is 15-13-3 all-time against Santa Clara, including a 2-0 road victory over then-No. 1 Santa Clara on Sept. 30, 2007. The Bears have played the Broncos more times than any other opponent in the program's history. The teams have met twice in the NCAA Tournament, with Santa Clara garnering a 2-0 win in Berkeley in 2000 and a 2-1 victory in Santa Clara in 2004.
Stanford leads the all-time series with Cal, 12-11-3, and won this year's regular-season meeting, 4-2, at Stanford on Oct. 4. Cal beat Sacramento State, 3-1, in 1995 in the only meeting between the schools.
McGuire will be taking a team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his seven seasons as a collegiate coach. Prior to coming to Cal, McGuire directed successful rebuilding efforts at Mississippi State and Texas Tech. He was named the 2001 SEC Coach of the Year.
'As a coach, I'm always going to look for improvements,' said McGuire. 'We have to be happy with the way we're performing both offensively and defensively. We're scoring more goals and giving up less in the latter part of the season. The girls are playing with a renewed sense of confidence, which is going to help us as we move forward.'
In Cal's last NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006, the Bears advanced to the second round. Cal beat Auburn, 3-1, before losing to Florida State, 3-1, in Tallahassee, Fla. In 2005, Cal advanced to the third round of NCAAs for the first time since 1988. The Bears' best NCAA Tournament performances were semifinal appearances in 1984, '87 and '88.
In 2007, Cal has registered 36 goals and has allowed 19. The Bears own a 0.99 goals-against average and have recorded 10 shutouts. Sophomore Gina Pellegrini has played the majority of minutes in goal for Cal, posting a 1.03 GAA. The Bears have already tallied eight more goals than they did in 2006, when they finished with a 12-5-5 overall record.
Junior forward Valerie Barnes leads a quartet of double-digit Cal scorers with 16 points. Freshman forward Alex Morgan is second on the team with 15 points and is tied with Barnes for the team lead in goals with seven. Senior midfielders Caitlin Hannegan and Caroline Lea are third (13) and fourth (10), respectively, on the team in points. Hannegan and senior forward Stephanie Wieger are tied for the team lead in assists with three.
The Pac-10 earned four bids to the 2007 NCAA Tournament - Cal, UCLA, Stanford and USC. The College Cup concludes Dec. 7 and 9 in College Station, Texas.