Oct. 6, 2006
Spokane, Wash. - Despite earning a 17-8 advantage in shots and holding the majority of the possession, the 17th ranked Santa Clara University men's soccer team was held to a 0-0 tie by Gonzaga at Merlo Field. Gonzaga goalkeeper Vito Higgins made seven saves to keep the Broncos (6-3-3, 2-1-1 in WCC) from finding the back of the net, while Joseph Buttitta was equally strong between the pipes for SCU and notched his fourth shutout of the 2006 season.
The Broncos entered Friday's match with revenge on their minds after losing in overtime to Gonzaga in the second-to-last game of the season in 2005, costing them the WCC title. SCU was also looking for only their third win in 10 matches on the road against Gonzaga, as they entered Friday's game with a 2-5-0 record all-time at Merlo Field.
Santa Clara came out of the gate hard in the first half looking exorcise their past demons. However, the Zags hung tough and kept the Broncos at bay throughout the first half and nearly went ahead 10 minutes into the game. George Josten found the back of the net, but the goal was nullified after Josten was ruled offside.
Freshman Sean Danzeiser had some of the best opportunities for SCU in the first half, shooting wide from close range midway through the half and then having a long blast tipped away by a diving Higgins. Captain Peter Lowry's free kick in the 35th minute was also saved by Higgins. Despite the Broncos possessing an 8-1 margin in shots in the first half, the two teams entered the halftime break scoreless with Higgins making three saves.
The second half saw more of the same, as SCU continued to push forward and try to break down the Gonzaga defense. In the 70th minute, it appeared that the Broncos would grab the lead as freshman Jeff Cosgriff fired a shot that Higgins saved, but the ball continued to head toward the net. Just before crossing the line, a Gonzaga defender recovered to clear the ball and keep the match scoreless.
For the third time this season, SCU would head to overtime. Each team would have a chance for the winner in the extra session. First, just three minutes into the first overtime, Broncos sophomore Jide Ogunbiyi turned his defender and fired a shot on frame. However, the 2005 All-WCC performer's shot was saved by Higgins.
In the waning moments of the second overtime, Buttitta came up big for the Broncos with a game-saving stop. Gonzaga's John Reha got free inside the box and ripped a shot at the near post but Buttitta was in position for the save to keep the game tied.
Santa Clara continues its road trip on Sunday, Oct. 8 in Portland, Ore. The Broncos take on the University of Portland Pilots at 2:15 p.m. PT at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex.