October 9, 2010

Playing a Man Down, Santa Clara Nearly Beats USF

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – USF senior Victor Cortez scored an improbable goal from 40 yards away with five seconds left, blasting a desperation effort into the net's upper left corner to force overtime against Santa Clara.

In what was an extremely entertaining game at Buck Shaw Stadium, the local rivals would play to a 2-2 draw after 110:00 minutes of soccer.

Cortez's miracle shot capped off a hotly contested second half in which Santa Clara and USF combined to score three goals in a four-minute span right after the break, then were cited for a series of cards, including a red card that forced the homestanding Broncos to play a man down for the majority of the night.

Despite the disadvantage Santa Clara was five seconds away from the victory, leading 2-1 before Cortez scored his second goal of the night.

"What a great WCC match up. USF and Santa Clara, for years, have battled for games," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast after the double overtime draw. "(Cortez) hit a blinder at the end. All the credit to him."

Santa Clara (4-4-3; 1-0-2 WCC) moves to 10-0-3 against the Dons at Buck Shaw Stadium, dating back to 1993. Three games into their WCC season, the Broncos will now play St. Mary's on the road Sunday afternoon.

USF (2-7-2; 0-3-1 WCC) avoids losing its fifth straight.

After an uneventful first half, Mykell Bates and Wesley Culver scored back-to-back goals, less than two minutes apart to give SCU a 2-0 lead just after the intermission. Bates headed-in a free kick offering from Culver in the 47th minute to initiate the scoring.

Then, moments later, after a USF foul just outside the penalty box, Culver took the next free kick and put it into the back of the net himself.

"We put ourselves in an awesome position in the beginning of the second half," said Rast. "As games go, they are going to be competed for. That is not going away, especially in a Santa Clara, USF match and they got themselves right back close enough to strike."

Just two minutes after Culver's free kick put SCU up 2-0, it was Cortez answering with a goal in traffic, amongst a host of players fighting for a rebounded shot inside the box on the other end.

A shoving match ensued immediately after the goal, setting off a string of yellow cards, and eventually a red card three minutes later on Santa Clara's Erik Hurtado. The Broncos would play a man down for the final 36 minutes of regulation and into the extra time – generating chances to score throughout the two overtimes.

"It was critical for us to gather ourselves, after the card and after the tying goal," said Rast. "We had to do a lot of defending but we had our opportunities. Connor (Mitchell) put one off the crossbar (in the first overtime) and (Eric) Masch had a great look in the second overtime. I will put it on Masch's foot anytime. We created the chances to win it in overtime, even down a man, so I am really proud of the guys and how they regrouped."