Santa Clara Ties LMU, San Diego Goes on to Clinch WCC Title
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Santa Clara University men's soccer team played to a scoreless draw with homestanding Loyola Marymount University Friday afternoon and with San Diego's 2-0 vicrtory over St. Mary's, the Broncos will be denied the chance of playing for the conference championship on Sunday at USD.
Both Santa Clara (10-6-2; 7-2-2 WCC) and San Diego (11-7-0; 9-2-0 WCC) came into the weekend controlling their own playoff and championship destiny. With the Broncos tying the Lions, USD knew it could clinch the out-right West Coast Conference title with a win over St. Mary's heading into their match under the lights of Torero Stadium.
"Hey, if San Diego wins tonight, they deserve it," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast immediately following the Broncos game at LMU. "It's going to be anybody's game down there. St. Mary's is a good team and can cause teams to play a different style of game. We will see."
Before anything had been decided, the afternoon affair in Los Angeles saw neither SCU or LMU generate very many quality chances in the first half. In the second half however, Santa Clara opened it up a bit, extending forward trying to take the action to Loyola Marymount (5-10-4; 3-5-3 WCC) knowing the game was a must-win.
"We changed our system of play later in the game," said Rast. "Our best chances came in the overtime sessions, and LMU could have very easily won it as well."
SCU's All-America forward Erik Hurtado was able to break free in overtime number one, getting behind the Lion defense and clipping a ball just wide past LMU's goalkeeper Paul Blanchette. Hurtado led all players with four shots and teammate Harrison Hanley forced Blanchette to make two of his four saves on the day.
Shots and corner kick opportunies were near even between both teams.
On Santa Clara's defensive end, senior keeper Larry Jackson posted his seventh shutout of the season and sixth in WCC play. The Broncos also received quality minutes from final-year players Alex Fitschen and Danny Maeda.