California Strives to Be a Conference Contender in 2013

With the return of the reigning MPSF Player of the Year and numerous other key veterans back in the mix, California is looking to turn some heads, get over the hump and be a true contender to bring home its second conference championship in school history in 2013. Having finished in the middle of the pack in fourth place the past two seasons, second-year head coach Ginger Miles sees this year's Golden Bears as not only a talented group of student-athletes but also an experienced and extremely motivated group. As Miles put it herself, it's a group that will not settle for mediocrity.

"We absolutely think that we have the talent and the desire to win the conference this year," Miles said. "We've been working really hard all fall and so far this spring, and we hope to put ourselves in a position to compete for that MPSF championship. This team will raise some eyebrows this year. It's not just our skill but also how badly we want it and how hard we're willing to work to get there. This is a team that hasn't shied away from the hard work that it takes to be a championship caliber team. I'm really excited to see how it all plays out."

Miles' used last season's sub-par finish as a tool to motivate her squad to come back more determined, focused and hungrier to raise its level of expectations for this season. The end result of all the offseason hard work is a team that has greatly raised its confidence. After holding its own against national teams during the fall ball season, Cal feels like it has put together an MPSF-championships caliber team.

Another nice advantage for the Bears will be returning to newly-renovated Memorial Stadium after calling Witter Rugby Field home for the past two seasons. Miles and the Bears are excited to take advantage of the fantastic facility and enjoy a true home-field advantage.

Cal hopes to break in the new digs with an offensive explosion; the focal point of which will be the 2012 MPSF Player of the Year, senior attacker Megan Takacs. After posting 53 goals as a junior, Takacs was forced to sit for the final three games after suffering an ACL injury. While Miles intends to take things slowly with Takacs at the start of the year, Takacs is back to 100 percent health and fully intends to pick up where she left off.

"We just want her to be healthy at the end of the season," Miles said. "I have no doubt that she'll hit the ground running. She blew the lid off of our expectations last year. With the confidence she's bringing into this season, she's going to blow the lid off of it again. She has the want, the hunger and the determination every single day to help this team. She's a very selfless player. She just wants to help this team win any way she can. She'll step into any role that we need her to. She'll have a huge impact on our success this season."

If defenses simply gameplan to concentrate on stopping Takacs, they're going to get a rude awakening when they realize she isn't the only strong offensive weapon the Bears have in their arsenal. Senior attacker Melissa Humphrey is back after posting 61 points last season, fifth all-time at Cal. After having put her name in the Cal record book numerous times in 2012, Humphrey earned All-MPSF and MPSF All-Academic team honors.

"It's almost a shame for Melissa that Megan had such a good year last year and she had to kind of hang out in her shadow," Miles said. "We asked Mel to step up in a huge role last year and she's always been a contributor for this team. We asked her to fill some really huge shoes and she did that without blinking. She's somebody that I know will continue to grow as a player. She's more dynamic than she even showed last year. She stepped into that 'quarterback' role for us last year, but this year, I'm sure her role will grow even more. She's capable of doing more for us, and I can't wait to see what she's going to do this year."

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2013-01-30



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