2. PREVIEW: UCLA get U-20s back for Women's Cup


U.S. U-20 women's national team players have returned to campuses across the country after spending the first two weeks of the 2006 season in Russia, where the USA finished fourth at the Under-20 Women's World Championship.

No team missed more players than No. 5 UCLA, which welcomes back five U-20s for this weekend's UCLA Women's Cup. The Bruins open against No. 4 Texas A&M on Friday. In the first game, No. 3 Santa Clara meets No. 12 Connecticut. Sunday's games between Texas A&M and Santa Clara at 11:30 a.m. PT (2:30 p.m. ET) and UCLA against UConn at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) will televised live on ESPNU.

Bronze Ball winner Danesha Adams and Val Henderson, both selected to the U-20 all-tournament team, head UCLA's returning U-20s. Also back are Tina DiMartino and Lauren Cheney, who both made four starts in Russia, and defender Erin Hardy. All five players will be available against Texas A&M and UConn. (Santa Clara welcomes back Amanda Poach, the third American named to the all-tournament team, and Jordan Angeli.)

In their absence, UCLA, ranked No. 1 in the Soccer America Preseason Top 25, opened with a 3-1 loss to Penn State but then posted three straight shutout victories. Four freshmen Lauren Wilmoth, Lauren Switzer, Lydia Cook and Kristina Larsen started all four matches. Larsen had game-winning goals in 1-0 wins over San Diego State and Long Beach State last weekend. (Click here to listen to Henderson, Larsen and veteran Stacy Lindstrom talk about the Bruins.)

Two other women's games this weekend involve teams ranked in Soccer America's Top 10. No. 6 Portland hosts No. 7 North Carolina Sunday in its Nike Invitational. Local interest in the defending national champion Pilots is so high that the UP-UNC game will be televised live on local station KPDX-TV (Channel 49). Both teams have returning U-20 players: UP's Stephanie Lopez, the U-20 captain, and Carolina's freshmen Tobin Heath and Casey Nogueira. Lopez returned to school on Monday, but her playing status this weekend is undecided.

No. 8 Penn State hopes to rediscover its winning ways when it hosts No. 9 West Virginia. The Nittany Lions, who welcome back U-20 Allie Long, are winless in their last three games since beating UCLA in their season opener. The Mountaineers have opened with four wins. Penn State beat West Virginia, 5-2, when they met in the second round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
    THURSDAY WOMEN'S TOP 25 ACTION

  • Senior Ashley Foster scored a spectacular goal to give No. 13 Texas a 2-1 win over New Mexico in overtime for its third straight win. Foster collected the ball on the right side, near midfield, dribbled through two New Mexico defenders, broke toward the box and unleashed a left-footed shot from 25 yards. "Ashley is a dynamic player who is capable of scoring from a distance with both feet," said UT coach Chris Petrucelli.

  • Bri WilesStephanie Wieger and Julia Schnugg each scored her first goal of the season to propel No. 18 California to a 3-1 victory over Air Force at the St. Mary's Fall Classic. Cal wore pink wristbands with the initials "KW" on them in memory of Kim Ward -- the mother of senior defender Emily Ward -- who passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
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