SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University men's soccer team extended its win streak to four, capping off the opening weekend of West Coast Conference play with a 1-0 victory over visiting Loyola Marymount. It marked the third consecutive shutout win for the Broncos, who blanked San Diego Friday night.
Santa Clara (5-4-0; 2-0-0 WCC) – a program that has won 11 WCC titles – is off to an ideal start within league play following a grueling non-conference slate that resulted in a 1-4-0 start to the season back in early September.
"Very proud of the guys for really turning a season around," said Santa Clara head coach and former U.S. Olympian Cameron Rast. "We started off with a record that was nothing to brag about, but now we're looking at ourselves and feeling like, hey we might have something here."
Rast and the rest of the league know the Broncos have something in preseason All-America forward Erik Hurtado. Making the most of a through-ball from teammate Glenn Vass, Hurtado's breakaway game-winner in the second half Sunday was his seventh of the year, his fourth goal in the last three games and third-straight game-winner.
LMU (2-6-2; 0-1-1 WCC) was coming off a double-overtime draw with St. Mary's on Friday. The Lions, a team that went 5-6-1 in WCC play last season, will go after their first league victory next weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
"Coming into conference, we knew the best way to win games is grinding it out like we did today," said SCU junior defender and team co-captain Mark Daus. "Locking it down in the back, and great goalkeeping by Larry (Jackson). Then we had Max (Ornstil) and Murphy (Campbell) winning all the balls, and the second balls, in the midfield for us."
"I am very happy with the back-line," said Rast when asked about his defense, which has allowed just one goal during the team's current four-match win streak. "We made some small adjustments and I think, especially in conference, it has worked really well. We shifted our shape just a touch. But as much as I want to give them credit and Larry (Jackson) credit - Larry made some great saves during this stretch – we talk about team defending. It's a team goal and a team priority to lockdown shutouts. Then, if you can shutout teams, not allowing them easy chances, we are hard to beat because we have guys that can score goals."
The Broncos will now turn their attention to Bay Area rivals St. Mary's and San Francisco. SCU will play in Moraga Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 4 p.m., then host the Dons this coming Sunday, Oct. 7.
"This is one of the best groups I've played with here," said Daus when asked about how well the team is playing. "We know each other very well and are able to back each other up. Overall, the team chemistry on and off the field is a big part of it. I think that's what's got us off to such a good start (in WCC)."