SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 25th-ranked Santa Clara University men's soccer team improved to 6-1-3, shutting out its sixth opponent in 10 games and remaining unbeaten since Sept. 4 after dropping visiting Gonzaga University 2-0 Sunday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Santa Clara (6-1-3; 2-0 WCC) freshman Glenn Vass (pictured) put SCU in front early when he volleyed in a deflected corner kick and all-league forward Erik Hurtado added an insurance goal late in the second half to seal the win for a Bronco team positioning itself for a second straight WCC title.
"Conference games are not going to be easy, they know us, we know them and the games you play at home are must wins if you want to make a good conference run," said SCU's four-time WCC Coach of the Year Cameron Rast. "Today we did not play our best soccer and give a lot of credit to Gonzaga for that, they battled us hard and stayed in it long enough to create their chances."
Trailing 1-0 most of the afternoon, Gonzaga (2-6-1; 0-2 WCC) had a series of opportunities to even the match early in the second half. Josh Phillips had a shot ricochet off the crossbar and an offensive foul in the box negated another tying try for the Zags.
"In the second half it was important for us to come out and maintain a good energy and standard," said Rast. "Unfortunately, we did not settle in too well and there was one or two moments that we were under pressure and made some mistakes. We were fortunate, and that might be the tale of (Gonzaga's) season, they are just not finishing."
With Santa Clara clinging to that one-goal lead, Hurtado dashed any hopes Gonzaga had of pulling the upset when he dribbled across the field and blasted in a right-footed attempt from the top of the box. Hurtado leads the WCC in most every offensive category. His goal Sunday was his league-leading fifth and could not have come at a more opportune time.
"It's something we've talked about, we have to be able to finish teams off," added Rast. "You can't hold on to a one-goal lead every game, all the way through the season. You have to learn how to get more goals and lock things down … and Erik has the ability at any moment to undo (an opponent)."
Gonzaga has now lost 11 consecutive WCC road games and their all-time record at Buck Shaw Stadium slips to 2-10-2.
It marked the second straight WCC shutout-win for the Broncos, after they opened league play with a 1-0 victory over Portland Friday night. SCU will host local rival USF Wednesday night at 7 p.m.