WCC Men's Soccer: Santa Clara Battles Portland for First Place

Game Highlights from Sunday Night's Victory v. USF
Game Highlights from Recent Win v. USD
Erik Hurtado Comments on Being Named WCC Player of the Month
Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap (Oct. 10)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. –
The Santa Clara University men's soccer team – winners of five of their last six matches – will play a pivotal West Coast Conference road game Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. on Merlo Field in Portland, Ore.

Santa Clara (6-5-0; 3-1-0 WCC) has used its challenging non-conference schedule to its advantage, beginning league play 3-1-0, which includes three-consecutive WCC wins at home. However, this week marks the first extended road test for SCU within conference. Following Friday night's match at the University of Portland, the Broncos will matchup with Gonzaga University in Spokane Sunday at 2 p.m.

"We have good history going up there," SCU all-league goalkeeper Larry Jackson said when asked about this week's two-game trip to the Northwest.  "I hope we can really get settled in, making it a home away from home in a way. There is a great grass surface up at Gonzaga, great grass surface at Portland, so we will try and take the similarities we have at home and bring them up there, not trying to get out of (our) game."

Jackson – a final-year player from nearby East Palo Alto – has been terrific for Santa Clara during the team's current resurgence following a 1-4-0 start. He has anchored a Bronco defense that posted three consecutive shutout victories Sept. 21 through Sept. 30 and currently ranks among the NCAA leaders in goals-against average (0.895 per game) and save percentage (81.6).

The SCU front-line is armed with one of the nation's best forwards in senior Erik Hurtado. The Beaverton, Ore. native returns home to see if he can help the Broncos take control of first place in the WCC standings. Hurtado, projected as an All-America pick this season, ranks No. 5 nationally in goals per game (0.82), No. 6 in goals (9) and No. 8 in points (20).

Portland (5-5-1; 3-1-0 WCC) counters with a dangerous offensive player of its own, junior Steven Evans, a former U-20 U.S. Men's National Team member and a recent teammate of Hurtado's on the Portland Timbers U-23 side.

"Portland is a solid team, very skillful and well coached," said Hurtado, who has extended history playing with Evans growing up in the Portland area. "I've played with a lot of those guys, including (Evans). We played together very well on the (Timbers), and were able to get into a good rhythm as teammates. But as for Friday, personally I am looking forward to this game a lot, been looking forward to it all season long. I'm going to keep doing what I have been doing, trying to get us another result."

Hurtado has been doing quite a bit of damage as of late. He has scored three game-winners in the first four games against league opponents, been named the WCC Player of the Month for September and was recently tabbed as a National Team Player of the Week by College Soccer News.

Gonzaga (4-7-0; 0-4-0 WCC) has played three of its first four WCC games on the road. The Zags' lone home match thus far was a tight contest with USF on Sept. 29, tied at the half 1-1 before the Dons put in a go-ahead goal midway through the second half. Gonzaga will host St. Mary's on Friday night prior to entertaining SCU Sunday.

LIVE COVERAGE
There will be FREE live video and up to the minute live stats provided for Friday night's match at Portland on PortlandPilots.com. Sunday's game at GU will also be streamed via live video on GoZags.com. A small fee will be required to tune into that one. GoZags.com will also be offering live stats for Sunday's match, free of charge.

PAST MEETINGS
Santa Clara is 18-14-8 all-time against Portland. On the road SCU has earned a 6-7-4 mark at Merlo Field. The Broncos swept the Pilots last season, winning 1-0 at home and on the road, accounting for the current two-game SCU win streak in the series. Gonzaga has played Santa Clara very tough over the years, especially in Spokane. However the Broncos have won six consecutive games against the Zags dating back to 2009. GU and SCU are 6-6-1 all-time in Spokane, in contrast to a 10-2-2 all-time mark in favor of the Broncos in Santa Clara.

SCU HEAD COACH CAMERON RAST

* 120-63-38 career record
* 63-19-22 at Buck Shaw Stadium
* No. 2 all-time in WCC wins (63)
* Four-time WCC Coach of the Year
* Santa Clara Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee - 2006
* NCAA National Champion at SCU - 1989
* US Olympic Team Captain - 1992
* NCAA All-America Player – 1989 & 1990

QUOTABLE

"Since we are on an up-slope, and know we can put a string of wins together, we feel very confident," Larry Jackson said following the team's win over USF Sunday. "We had one that you couldn't predict last week versus St. Mary's but we came back and fought for another one – and that's what we'll need to do going up to Portland and Gonzaga to get a result."

LAST TIME OUT

Erik Hurtado scored twice in the first half and Santa Clara University fended off a late rally to earn a hard-fought 2-1 decision over West Coast Conference rival San Francisco Sunday night. Santa Clara (6-5-0; 3-1-0 WCC) remains perfect on its home field through four WCC contests.

"We are in the midst of the WCC first round and everybody is trying to position themselves in a spot to make a run for (the championship)," said Santa Clara head coach and former US Olympian Cameron Rast. "Particularly when you play your home games, you feel like those are the games you need to get results. Tonight that's what we felt. We felt like we needed to get a result."

The Broncos denied San Francisco (4-4-2, 2-2-0 WCC) of consecutive road wins, following the Dons' dramatic 2-1 overtime victory over St. Mary's Friday. USF received a second-half score from sophomore forward Miquel Aguilar stemming from a corner kick, and Aguilar nearly tied it in the closing moments.

MID-SEASON RESURGANCE
"Very proud of the guys for really turning a season around," said Santa Clara head coach and former U.S. Olympian Cameron Rast in late September. "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."

IN THE RANKINGS

Santa Clara began the year appearing in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 48 Tournament Rankings in each of the first three weeks and have returned in the latest poll, coming in at No. 43. The Broncos have yet to appear in the NSCAA Far West Region Top 10 or NSCAA Top 25. St. Mary's is the only WCC team appearing in the Far West Regional Top 10.

2012 WCC STANDINGS (Oct. 9)
Team WCC (PTS) Overall
Santa Clara 3-1-0 (9) 6-5-0
Portland 3-1-0 (9) 5-5-1
San Diego 3-1-0 (9) 5-6-0
San Francisco 2-2-0 (6) 4-4-2
Saint Mary's 1-2-1 (4) 5-3-3
Loyola Marymount 1-2-1 (4) 3-7-2
Gonzaga 0-4-0 (0) 4-7-0
WCC League-Leaders

ERIK HURTADO NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE MONTH (Oct. 4)
Santa Clara senior Erik Hurtado is the WCC Men's Soccer Player of the Month for September. Hurtado led the Broncos to four consecutive wins to close out the month, including three consecutive game-winning goals. It marks the second straight year Hurtado has been named the league's September Player of the Month.

HURTADO FEATURED BY THE SANTA CLARA NEWSPAPER - MAKES HISTORY

When senior forward Erik Hurtado steps on the soccer field, his goal is quite simple. "I just go out and try to score as many goals and get as many assists as I can," said Hurtado, a preseason All-American. read more ...

HURTADO EARNS WCC & NATIONAL HONORS
(Oct. 1)
Santa Clara preseason All-American Erik Hurtado was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career. Hurtado scored two goals as the Broncos opened up WCC play with a 2-0 win over San Diego and a 1-0 victory over Loyola Marymount the weekend of Sept. 28-30. The senior forward was picked for the National Team of the Week by CollegeSoccerNews on Oct. 1 as well. Hurtado was terrific for Santa Clara during the team's four-game win streak in late Sept., netting the game-winning goals in each of the last three contests of the month.

LARRY JACKSON GARNERS NATIONAL PRAISE 
(Oct. 1)
Santa Clara goalkeeper Larry Jackson helped the Broncos post three consecutive shutout victories in late Sept., and four-straight wins overall. On Oct. 1, CollegeSportsMadness.com named Jackson its West Coast Player of the Week. Jackson had eight saves in the first two WCC games of the 2012 campaign, keeping preseason league-favorite San Diego and LMU off the scoreboard en route to a pair of SCU wins. The senior from nearby East Palo Alto earned a 5-1-1 record in seven starts last season and was tabbed as an All-WCC Honorable Mention pick. This season Jackson is 6-4-0 and his three shutouts bring his career total to 9 in 31 starts.

RYAN MASCH NAMED WCC'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK (Sept. 17)
The West Coast Conference named Santa Clara University freshman forward Ryan Masch (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep) its men's soccer Player of the Week for September 17, 2012. Masch scored both of the Broncos' goals in a 2-1 win at Stanford on Sunday. Both of Masch's goals at Stanford, the Broncos' lone match of the week, came in the first half. The first came in the fourth minute from the top of the box. He now has three goals this season. Masch is the younger brother of former SCU All-WCC player and student Eric Masch '12.

MASCH, JACKSON & HURTADO EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS
2012 John Rennie/Nike Invitational All-Tournament Team (Durham, N.C.)
NC State: Alex Martinez (MVP), Jon Ray, Gbenga Makinde, Fabian Otte
Santa Clara: Erik Hurtado, Larry Jackson, Ryan Masch
Duke: Sebastien Ibeagha, James Belshaw
Delaware: Mark Garrity, Ben Sampson

IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Three members of Santa Clara's No. 7-ranked recruiting class – all former U17 US National Team members - Ryan Masch, Max Ornstil and Jared Hegardt are already playing extended minutes for the Broncos. Masch netted the game-winning goal at Duke on Aug. 31 and scored twice against Stanford Sept. 16. Hegardt has been projected as the WCC Freshman of the Year. Additionally, SCU added freshman defender Matt Escobar to its roster in early Sept. and he started ever since. Escobar - a local product of nearby Bellarmine High School - had originally signed to play at the University of Portland.

FOLLOW SCU MEN'S SOCCER ON TWITTER @SCUBroncoSoccer
The Santa Clara men's soccer program offers a direct link to its fans and supporters via Twitter. Check out @SCUBroncoSoccer to access the very latest.

PROVEN TALENT
Santa Clara has eight returning final-year players: Erik Hurtado, Larry Jackson, Wes Culver, Murphy Campbell, Danny Maeda, Gabriel Romero, and Alex Fitschen. The first four players listed have each earned All-WCC honors during their SCU careers thus far.

SCU STOPS IN VERO BEACH FOR EARY-SEASON TRAINING

Santa Clara traveled to Florida's central coast Saturday, Aug. 25 through Wednesday, Aug. 29, spending the majority of the week training at the historic Vero Beach Sports Village prior to the Broncos two games at Duke's John Rennie/Nike Invitational Tournament in Durham, N.C. "Anytime you can get on to a dedicated training facility that's dedicated to performance it's great," said Rast during the team's stay in Vero Beach. "All the guys are in little apartments, close to the field, which has a really nice, brand new Bermuda surface. As much as we love (Stanton Field), it's great to practice on grass. We are being treated like a professional program and that is exactly the way we want our guys to feel."

CHECK OUT THE 2012 MEN'S SOCCER VIRTUAL GUIDE

Featuring an updated and fresh design with new videos and game-day action photos and snapshots of behind-the-scenes Bronco fun, Santa Clara Athletics released a new 2012 Men's Soccer Virtual Guide. The virtual guides, exclusive to SantaClaraBroncos.com take place of the traditional paper media guides and feature a number of new pages on the Mission campus and Santa Clara Athletics.

HURTADO PRESEASON ALL-AMERICAN/ALL-WCC
The reigning West Coast Conference points-leader, Santa Clara Bronco senior forward Erik Hurtado, was named a 2012 Preseason All-American by College Sports Madness and was honored as a preseason All-WCC player. Hurtado has enjoyed a terrific collegiate career thus far, having drawn praise from the NSCAA as a 2011 All Far-West Region selection. He led the WCC in 2011 with 19 points and 85 shots as a junior. Hurtado has twice been named an All-WCC First Team player, along with earning WCC Player of the Month honors and three times being selected as the WCC Player of the Week. He was tabbed as the National Player of the Week by College Soccer News during his sophomore season in which he helped SCU win the WCC Championship.

SCHEDULING UP
"When we put a schedule together it is important to make it demanding of great soccer from our team," said Cameron Rast, who has guided SCU to four WCC titles in his 10 years as head coach. "We have to push our group for them to reach their potential. To do this we look to play the top teams in the country. This year I think we have done just that." Scheduling top 20 teams is nothing new for Rast and the Broncos. SCU went 6-1-3 to begin the 2011 season, beating Stanford and 14th-ranked Cal, while drawing with No. 6 UCLA. The Broncos owned the WCC's best overall record (11-5-4) and upped their all-time mark at home to 59-16-20 since Rast was elevated to head coach in 2002.

MLS STAR RETURNS TO BUCK SHAW
Mehdi Ballouchy, former SCU All-American and No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, was recently acquired by the San Jose Earthquakes. The Earthquakes play their home games at Santa Clara University's Buck Shaw Stadium.

"I feel very comfortable here," Ballouchy upon his return to San Jose. "I actually came back during the offseason and worked out with the (SCU) team. Just being around Leavey, Santa Clara, and the coaches was fun, because I remember I was in their shoes not so long ago."

Ballouchy was a First Team NCAA All-American while playing at Santa Clara in 2004 and 2005. He helped the Broncos advance into the NCAA tournament in both years, achieving a national ranking as high as No. 4 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). He was named the 2005 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and was taken No. 2 overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake. He became the highest overall pick ever from Santa Clara and the sixth Bronco to be selected in the first round.

BRONCO TEAMMATES TAKEN IN 2012 MLS DRAFT
Santa Clara University teammates Mykell Bates and Brandon Zimmerman were taken in the Major League Soccer 2012 Supplemental Draft. Toronto FC selected Bates with the fourth pick of the second round (No. 61 overall). Zimmerman went to the Philadelphia Union with the 13th pick of round four (No. 108 overall).

2011 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
* Santa Clara enjoys 23rd winning season in past 25 years
* Broncos post WCC's best regular season overall record (11-5-4)
* Team ranked No. 18 by College Soccer News (Oct. 4), also ranked nationally by NSCAA and TopDrawerSoccer.com
* 2011 NCAA Men's Division I NSCAA All-Far West Team: Erik Hurtado (Second Team), Mykell Bates (Third Team)
* Eight Broncos garner All-WCC honors; First Team: Mykell Bates, Brandon Zimmerman, Erik Hurtado. Freshman Team: Glenn Vass. Honorable Mention: Eric Masch, Connor Mitchell, Larry Jackson and Wesley Culver
* Seniors Eric Masch and Kevin Klasila named WCC All-Academic
* Broncos shutout nine opponents, allow league-low 18 goals
* SCU goes 7-2-3 at home
* Santa Clara wins five consecutive matches to close out the season
* Brandon Zimmerman named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Team of the Week (Oct. 2)
* Mykell Bates finishes the year No. 22-ranked pro prospect among seniors by TopDrawerSoccer.com
* Three Broncos named WCC Player of the Week: Kevin Klasila (Aug. 29); Erik Hurtado (Sept. 12 & 19); Eric Masch (Nov. 7)
* Erik Hurtado named WCC Player of the Month (September) – leads league in shots (85) and points (19)
* Cameron Rast moves into second all-time in WCC coaching wins (60-29-19)
* Santa Clara defeats Stanford (Aug. 27), ties then-No. 6 UCLA (Sept. 2) and tops then-No. 14 Cal (Sept. 16) – win in Berkeley is SCU's first since 1980

SANTA CLARA MEN'S SOCCER BY THE NUMBERS

* 54    Broncos advanced to play professional soccer
* 57    All-WCC First Team honorees
* 31    WCC Honor Roll selections
* 28    Played on the USA Youth National team
* 23    Winning seasons in 25 years
* 19    NCAA Tournament appearances
* 17    All-Americans
* 13    WCC Players of the Year
* 13    Teams ranked in the top 5 nationally
* 11    WCC Titles
* 8      15-plus win seasons
* 7      WCC 'Coach of the Year' Awards
* 7      Played on the USA Senior National team
* 6      Academic All-Americans
* 5      College Cup Final Fours
* 5      Far West Region Coaches of the Year
* 4      Teams ranked No. 1 nationally
* 3      WCC Freshmen of the Year
* 2      Players currently playing in the MLS
* 1      USA Olympian
* 1      National Championship

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