Men's Soccer Hosts Gonzaga Saturday Night
Oct. 15, 2003
This Week: Broncos Continue West Coast Conference Play
Santa Clara men's soccer begins its conference home season this weekend with a matchup against Gonzaga Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Buck Shaw Stadium. The match will be the first home league contest for the Broncos this season, and only their fifth overall.
No. 8 Santa Clara vs. Gonzaga
The Broncos and Bulldogs have met 10 previous times entering Saturday night's contest with Santa Clara holding a slim 5-4-1 all-time series advantage. Gonzaga handed the Broncos a 1-0 loss in Spokane, Wash. last year to open up league play, one of three one goal road losses in WCC action for the Broncos in 2002. The Zags enter the match with a 5-5-1 overall record and a 0-1-0 mark in league play. Arni Pjeturrson leads four players in double-digit points for GU with 13. His four goals scored is tied for second on the team while his five assists is a team-high. Vito Higgins has taken the majority of the minutes between the pipes for the Bulldogs, posting a 1.78 goals-against average in just under 862 minutes of play.
Santa Clara midfielder Erik Ustruck has become an integral part of the Bronco attack. The freshman from Manchester, Mo., scored his first collegiate goal in SCU's 2-1 win over San Francisco. The goal came in the 55th minute and proved to be the game-winner. Thus far in his rookie campaign, Ustruck has taken eight shots, three of which have been on goal.
Pan the Man
Junior defender Jason Pan has been on a virtual scoring tear if you take into account what he has done the last two matches and compare it to what he did the previous two and a half years. Pan, the steady defender from Milwaukee, Wis., spent the first 46 matches of his collegiate career looking for his first goal. Game 47 proved to be the turning point as his second half goal gave the Broncos an insurance goal in their 2-0 victory over Sacramento State. In the very next match, Pan score the game-tying goal with less than a minute remaining in the first half. His goal sparked the comeback that resulted in a 2-0 victory for SCU in the league opener.
Cronin First in WCC for Shutouts
Junior Steve Cronin has registered five shutouts thus far in 2003, ranking him first in the WCC in that category. He currently has 10 in his career, leaving him only seven shy of cracking the top-5 for career shutouts at SCU.
In the Rankings
The Santa Clara University men's soccer team rose to No. 8 in the Soccer Times poll and No. 13 in the Soccer America poll while remaining steady at No. 13 in the College Soccer News poll. Three WCC squads appear in the NSCAA/Adidas Far West Region Poll this week. LMU remained the highest ranked WCC team in the poll, moving up one spot to #4. Santa Clara stayed at #6 for the third straight week, while San Diego made its first appearance on the poll at #7. Portland, ranked #9 last week, dropped out of the poll despite a 6-1 win over Saint Mary's.
Playing Well Against Ranked Teams
Santa Clara has played four ranked teams thus far in the 2003 season, posting a 2-0-2 record in those four matches. With wins over then No. 4 SMU and then No. 19 Tulsa, the Broncos have shown they belong among the nation's elite. Their two ties against nationally ranked teams came against then No. 7 Creighton and then No. 21 California. Both ties were 0-0, double overtime contests and are the only matches that the Broncos have been shutout this season. On the other side, SCU has shutout eight of its 12 opponents. Additionally, the Broncos' third tie of the season came to last year's national runner-up, Stanford.
This Defense Never Rests
It's no secret that the strength of the No. 8 Santa Clara men's soccer team lies on the defensive side, but just how dominant they have become continues to bewilder opposing offenses. The Broncos have allowed only eight goals in their 14 matches thus far in 2003, posting a 0.55 goals-against average. Amazingly enough, the defense has depth as well. This was no more evident that in the Broncos' 6-0 win over George Washington. With the score reading 4-0 at halftime, head coach Cameron Rast pulled most of his starters in favor of the reserves. Much like the starters, the second line of defense played so well that George Washington was unable to get off a single shot in the entire match.
Last Week: Broncos Open League Play with 2-1 Win at USF
Erik Ustruck's first collegiate goal in the 55th minute proved to be the game-winner for the 9th-ranked Santa Clara men's soccer team as they defeated San Francisco by a score of 2-1 Friday night at Negoesco Stadium on the USF campus. The win moves the Broncos' record to 9-2-3 overall and 1-0 in league play while dropping the Dons to 5-8-0 overall and 0-1 in West Coast Conference action. After Gabe Sturm put in a short shot off a feed from Luke Holmes at the 28:10 mark, the Dons looked like they would take a lead into halftime. However, Jason Pan netted his second goal of the season with less than a minute remaining in the half, blasting a free-kick from just outside the penalty area past USF goalkeeper Travis Sharp to tie the contest. Santa Clara scored the winning goal on an unusual play as Kellen Gilmore took a throw in deep in USF territory, rolling the ball through the penalty box untouched, past the far post right to the waiting foot of Ustruck who was able to blast it in from short range.
Up Next: Broncos Host Portland on Saturday, October 25
Santa Clara remains at Buck Shaw Stadium for its second consecutive week, welcoming the Portland Pilots to the Bay Area for a 7 p.m. match on Saturday, October 25. The Broncos will be looking for revenge for last year's 2-1 overtime loss in Portland. The Pilots are currently 7-5-0 overall and 2-0-0 in league play coming off a huge 6-1 win over Saint Mary's.