Portland Hands Santa Clara Its First WCC Loss, Broncos Fall 1-0

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photo by WIDGIC

The Santa Clara men's soccer team's 12-game unbeaten steak came to a halt tonight at Buck Shaw Stadium, as the Broncos dropped their first WCC match of the season at home to Portland, 1-0.  The Pilots leading scorer, Jarad vanSchaik, played the part of spoiler, scoring the game's only goal in the 83rd minute.

The first half was very evenly contested, with both sides seeing about the same amount of chances.  Portland narrowly edged Santa Clara (9-5-5 overall, 6-1-4 WCC) on shot attempts, 5-4. Each goalkeeper, senior Kevin Klasila for the Broncos and Austin Guerrero for the Pilots, had to make just two saves.

Portland had two great chances in the first half, the first just 6:59 into the game.  The ball made its way across the face of the goalmouth, but Steven Evans flubbed the shot wide.  Later, in the 19th minute, Thomas Iwaski's shot off a cross was bound for the back of the net, but Austin Tenn-McClellan was there to clear it off the line.

The second half played out much the same way, with both teams seeing chance but failing to convert, until vanSchaik took advantage of a miscommunication between Klasila and one of his defenders.  Klasila, after gathering the ball on the previous play, distributed a ground ball out to the wide left flank, but vanSchaik ran past the unsuspecting defender and picked off the pass, tucking his shot just inside the left post past an outstretched Klasila.

Santa Clara's best chance in the second half came in the 77th minute, before Portland's goal.  Sophomore Erik Hurtado was all alone on the right side of the goal and tried to finish to the near post, but Guerrero used his athleticism to get down to the hard shot and parry the ball wide.  Guerrero's other save in the final 45 minutes came on Brandon Zimmerman's free kick try early in the half.

The Broncos went on to outshoot the Pilots, 11-9, but couldn't finish a ball past Guerrero.  Corner kicks were all-square at two apiece.

"I think any loss is disappointing," said head coach Cameron Rast.  "Losing is part of the game we love to play, and we play because we love the competitive nature of it.  Portland did a great job.  They came in here and had some things to prove to themselves and they took care of what they needed to.  For us … it's a matter of us trying to do what we do well and I think in the second half we did.  We created some great chances and when we get those and they sink we walk away with good result and tonight they didn't go."

The loss puts the destiny of the WCC Championship out of Santa Clara's hands and into Loyola Marymount's grasp.  The Lions defeated Saint Mary's, 2-0, earlier in the day and can clinch the league title with a win against San Francisco on Sunday.  The Broncos must get a win over Gonzaga in a noon home game on Sunday and hope for a LMU loss in order to win the 2010 WCC Championship and the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.