PORTLAND, Ore – When Mykell Bates scored with 10 minutes left to put Santa Clara University up 1-0 against the University of Portland, for a brief moment, the Broncos looked like they just might do the improbable and cap off a late-season push by winning the program's 12th West Coast Conference title.
However, down in Moraga, league-leading St. Mary's College scored a go-ahead goal of their own, using a man advantage to beat visiting San Diego and stake claim to the WCC crown – finishing one point ahead of Santa Clara in the final standings.
St. Mary's (8-6-5; 7-3-2 WCC) earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Santa Clara (11-5-4; 7-4-1 WCC) will await what appears to be a long-shot at-large berth into the national field of 48.
The Division I men's soccer championship announcement will be online only this year, at www.NCAA.com. It will take place at 1:30 p.m. PT on Monday, November 14. Broncos NCAA RPI was 95 prior to this week's road wins over both Gonzaga and Portland.
"This is the most disappointing win I've ever had," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "The good part is we beat Portland and our RPI will climb, but we will most likely have to be in the top 40 to be in the playoffs."
Santa Clara had been ranked as high as No. 18 this season and was atop the WCC standings for a good part of the year. However the team's four-game conference losing streak was too much to overcome - even winning five-straight to close out the campaign was not enough.
"I couldn't be prouder of this group," added Rast. "The disappointing thing is we think we're not only good enough to be a playoff team but a team that would win some games in the playoffs. I just wish these guys had more games to play."