Men's Soccer Kicks Off Season at USF/diadora Classic

Aug. 31, 2004

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -

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This Week: USF/diadora Classic
After a 2003 campaign that finished at the College Cup, the Santa Clara men's soccer team is starting the 2004 season looking to return to the postseason for the 11th time in the past 15 seasons. The first step in their quest towards the National Championship is the USF/diadora Classic, which marks the first matches for the 2004 Broncos. On Thursday night, SCU will take on Massachusetts for the first time in program history. Last season, the Minutemen posted a 11-7-1 mark. They finished seventh in the Atlantic 10 conference with a 5-5-1 conference record. Saturday will see the Broncos face UC Davis. Santa Clara has not played the Aggies since 1978 when the Broncos claimed a 3-2 win in Davis. UC Davis went 10-5-4 a year ago and finished second in the CCAA with a 8-4-2 mark.

Santa Clara and the host San Francisco will not meet in the tournament. They also will not face each other in the Santa Clara adidas Classic, which begins on September 16. In the new WCC double round-robin format, the teams will play each other twice during the conference schedule.

Broncos Picked to Repeat as Conference Champions
The Santa Clara University men's soccer team was selected as the favorite to capture the 2004 West Coast Conference crown, as voted on by the conference coaches in the preseason poll. The Broncos garnered three first place votes to earn the preseason distinction after claiming the conference title a year ago. 2003 NCAA Tournament participants Portland and Loyola Marymount each received two first place votes to place second and third in the poll, respectively. San Diego, which also reached the NCAA Tournament and finished second in the conference last season, ranked fourth out of the WCC teams. Bay Area rival San Francisco was picked to finish fifth in the conference, while Gonzaga and Saint Mary's each earned 11 points to finish tied at sixth.

Santa Clara Ranked in All Four Preseason Polls
In each of the top four major collegiate polls, Santa Clara has been ranked among the top 16 teams in the country prior to the start of the 2004 season.

The NSCAA/adidas Preseason Poll ranks the Broncos fifth among its top-25 programs. The fifth ranking marks the highest for SCU in any of the preseason polls. Last season, Santa Clara finished the year ranked fourth by the NSCAA. SCU earned the top ranking of the West Coast schools as only UCLA (7) and UC Santa Barbara (15) appeared in the rankings.

Soccer America also listed the Broncos in the top-10 as SCU was tabbed seventh by the publication after being ranked fourth at the conclusion of 2004. The Broncos were one of three California schools in the top-10 and earned the highest spot of the West Coast Conference teams. Conference rival Portland was ranked 19th by Soccer America.

Soccer Times was the third poll to place the Broncos in its top-10, as SCU was ranked eighth. Although Santa Clara was the only WCC school in the poll, Loyola Marymount, San Diego and Portland all received votes. College Soccer News, which was the first preseason poll to be released, placed the Broncos 16th.

Broncos Open Home Schedule With Santa Clara Community Day
The Broncos will open the home portion of their schedule Friday, Sept. 16 in the annual adidas Classic. San Francisco plays Davidson in the first match at 5 p.m.., while Santa Clara hosts neighboring San Jose State in the annual Rivalry Series match at 7:30. The event is also Santa Clara Community Day, presented by the Bank of Santa Clara with all residents of Santa Clara receiving discount admission to both games. Call 408/554-4660 for tickets.

On Sunday, USF and San Jose State will play in the 5 p.m. matchup, while the host Broncos will take-on Davidson at 7:30 p.m. in the final match of the tournament.

Cronin Honored By Olympic Club
Former Bronco standout and current San Jose Earthquake Steve Cronin was honored by the Olympic Club with the 2003 Bay Area Award of Excellence, August 18 at the Club's annual preseason media luncheon. Cronin joins former Santa Clara women's soccer player and current national team member Aly Wagner as SCU's two recipients of the award. A first-team All-WCC goalkeeper in 2003, Cronin helped to lead Santa Clara to the College Cup a year ago. His 0.83 career goals against average ranks fifth in the Bronco records books after spending time in the net from 2001-03. Last year, Cronin was selected by the Earthquakes in the first round of the 2003 Major League Soccer Draft. He, along with fellow All-WCC selection Ryan Cochrane, signed Nike Project 40 contracts with San Jose and decided to forego their senior seasons.

Season/Match Tickets on Sale
Season and individual match tickets for Santa Clara University's nationally-recognized soccer teams are on sale through the Department of Athletics' official website www.SantaClaraBroncos.com, and the athletic ticket office at 408-554-4660, between the hours of 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In conjunction with its exclusive Internet partner, College Sports Online, the athletic department has developed an online ticket application that provides fans with the ability to purchase season tickets, family plans, individual matches or an all-sports pass via the official athletic website. A men's and women's soccer season ticket package that includes the 17 home matches is available for the adult price of $65 each, while a family plan provides a family of five admission to each game for the low price of $100. Youth (12 and under) and senior (over 65-years-old) season tickets are also available for $30. Single games are priced at $7 for adults, $5 for youths and seniors and $2 for non-Ruff Riders SCU students as well as members of Bronco Kidz. Single match team passes are also available for $35.

West Coast Conference Moves to Double Round Robin Format
This season, the West Coast Conference has adopted a double round robin format during conference play. Now, teams will meet each other twice during the WCC slate, with each team hosting a match and expanding the conference schedule from six matches to 12 matches. Prior to this season, conference teams met only once per season with the home site alternating each year.

Santa Clara Welcomes 15 Newcomers
Sophomore transfer Medhi Ballouchy and McDonald's High School All-American highlight the group of 15 newcomers to the Bronco program this season. Ballouchy, who transferred to SCU after a year at Creighton, was named a freshman All-American by College Soccer News in 2002. A skilled playmaker, the Casa Blanca, Morocco native will bring a new dimension to the Bronco attack.
A fellow midfielder, Lowry will also add to the talented pool of players. A NSCAA High School All-American in 2002, Lowry has a wealth of international experience after spending time with the U-18 National Team. Midfielder Hector Guzman also brings international flair to the Broncos. A native of Costa Rica, Guzman spent time playing the Seville, Spain in early 2004.

Jonathan Barbarin and Cardiff Schmitz are also new to the Bronco program after transferring from other universities. Barbarin comes to Santa Clara from American University after spending one season in Washington, D.C. Schmitz, a native of Lake Oswego, Ore., becomes a Bronco after captaining the team at Holy Names College in his freshman year.

Along with Lowry, 10 freshmen are new to the program in 2004. Seven Californians, two Colorado natives and a Las Vegas, Nevada product round out the impressive group.

Broncos Return Seven of Eight Top Scorers From 2003
All-WCC players Will Weatherly, Erik Ustruck and Kelechi Igwe will look to take the 2004 team back to the College Cup as the Broncos return seven of their eight top scorers from last season. Weatherly, an All-College Cup selection, was the team's leading scorer a year ago with seven goals. He also tallied a team-high 14 points. Ustruck spent time this summer with the U-20 National Team in Haiti, making four starts in a week long camp. Igwe ranked second on the 2003 squad with 13 points and six goals.

Senior defenders Jason Pan and Zach Knight, along with senior goalkeeper Kent Harkness will anchor a defense that allowed only 18 goals in 24 matches a year ago. Along with Weatherly and Igwe, Keith DeVey, Ryan Wolfe and Jeff Scott will return to the front line. Forward Devin Skrade will also return to the attack after redshirting last season due to injury.