October 2, 2005

Ballouchy's Game-Winner Sinks Gaels

Oct. 2, 2005

Final Stats

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Regardless of records or rankings, when Santa Clara and Saint Mary's go head-to-head it is always a battle.

Tonight's men's soccer matchup at Buck Shaw Stadium was no exception.

Junior All-America Mehdi Ballouchy showed why he is considered one of the top players in the nation this season when he collected a cross from teammate Kelechi Igwe and calmly scored the game-winner in the 95th minute to lead Santa Clara to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Gaels.

The West Coast Conference opener for Santa Clara, the win pushed the eighth-ranked Broncos to a 7-2-0 overall record and a 1-0 league mark. Saint Mary's fell to 4-4-1 overall and 1-1 in the WCC.

"I thought both teams battled hard for the entire 95 minutes," said SCU head coach Cameron Rast. "Saint Mary's is a good team that is battling for results and whenever Santa Clara and Saint Mary's play in anything, you know it is going to be a very competitive contest."

Although they maintained a high percentage of possession and owned a 15-10 edge in shots, Santa Clara was unable to put away the Gaels during regulation.

Saint Mary's scored the match's first goal when David Blanchard one-timed a rebound off a shot by Derek Youpel that hit the nearside post in the 22nd minute.

Just two minutes later, SCU's Erik Ustruck pushed a low roller into the lower left corner of the goal off a pass in front of the goal by Hector Guzman.

Santa Clara went up 2-1 just after halftime when Igwe gathered a cross by Keith DeVey that was intended for Ustruck. After the pass deflected off a SMC player, Ustruck was able to get the ball to Igwe for a hard shot into the right side of the open net.

After nearly 30 minutes of action, during which the Broncos had several chances to put the game away, SMC's Matthew Fitzgerald scored off a throw-in by Carlos Diaz that fell to his feet and he put it past SCU keeper Kevin Sweeney to tie the game.

"I thought we had several excellent changes during regulation but could not take advantage of them," said Rast. "We talked with the team prior to the overtime period. We felt that we needed to reward ourselves for creating so many chances to score. We came out and immediately pushed the ball forward, never gave up and we took advantage of an opportunity that we created.

After the restart for the first overtime period, Igwe drove a cross in front of the goal that found Ballouchy on the back post and the Casablanca, Morocco native poked it into the near post from approximately six yards from the goal.

"I am really pleased for our guys. It is important to get results, particularly at home, in conference matches and it is good to get off to a positive start in league play."

Santa Clara returns to action next weekend when it travels to Southern California to play at San Diego and Loyola Marymount. The Broncos return home on Oct. 14 to play Portland.