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The Cavalier field hockey team embarks on its busiest four-day stretch of the 2007 season thus far with a home game on Thursday against California before traveling to Louisville to face visiting Rutgers and host Louisville on Saturday and Sunday. The No. 15/19 Cavaliers (5-5) host the Bears (7-1) on Thursday at 6 p.m. at University Hall Turf Field before taking on Rutgers (7-5) and No. 14/17 Louisville (7-5) at Trager Field in Louisville; both games are slated for a 2 p.m. start. Virginia has faced the sixth-toughest schedule in the nation according to, the official ratings website of the NFHCA.

Virginia has faced the Bears only twice previously; the first time came in 1981 at the National Championships in Berkeley where the Cavaliers fell to the hosts 3-0. Current Cal head coach Shellie Onstead led the charge for the home team, scoring the opening goal and assisting on the other two scores. Twenty-one years later in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers evened the series with a come-from-behind victory over then-No. 14 California, defeating the Bears 3-2. California has not lost since a season-opening defeat to Indiana and is currently ranked 19th in the computer rankings as of Tuesday.

The Cavaliers have never faced Rutgers, the alma mater of Virginia head coach Michele Madison. The ties continue as Liz Tchou, the head coach at Rutgers, was an assistant at Virginia in 1992. In addition, Tchou was a member of the 1994 World Cup team that captured the bronze medal at the quadrennial championships, America’s highest finish at the FIH event; Madison was one of the coaches for the USA squad. The two teamed up again two years later at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Virginia last faced Louisville in Charlottesville in 1979; the Cavaliers won 5-0 behind a hat trick from Jackie Campbell. Virginia’s only other contest against the Cardinals was in the fifth-place game at the AIAW Region II Tournament in Williamsburg in 1977, a game won 2-0 by the Cavaliers on the strength of two goals by Cindy Carzo and a defense that allowed Louisville only one shot. In the rankings published on Tuesday, Louisville (No. 22) edges out the Cavaliers (No. 23) 95.8 to 95.6 in the computer rankings, but the Cavaliers have the slight advantage in RPI, (15th, .587 to 17th, .582). The Cardinals’ schedule also ranks tenth, four spots below the Cavaliers.

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