SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After two weeks of preseason training, the Santa Clara men's soccer team returns to Buck Shaw Stadium for its 2014 season opener against cross-town rival San Jose State in an exhibition match on Sat., Aug. 23rd at 7pm. Predicted to finish second in the West Coast Conference this year, the Broncos look to top the Spartans for the second consecutive time on their home turf.
"It's nice to play at home in your first scrimmage where you are a bit more comfortable and have some confidence," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast in his 13th season leading the Bronco. "I think early in a season the things you really want to focus on is making sure you are organized defensively. If you do that, you are going to have a base to build your team around. Then you can spend some time on the attacking part of the game, which is the phase we are in now. We have the organization piece of how we want to defend in place and now are spending time on the attack, which takes a lot longer in order to mesh and gel."
Santa Clara finished 2013 with an overall record of 11-9-0, going 8-4 in WCC play and taking second place in the league behind Loyola Marymount. It was the program's 25th winning season in 27 years. Notably, the Broncos topped ranked opponent No. 13 UC Irvine by a score of 2-1 last year in the final two minutes of regulation. The Broncos scored 21 goals in 2013, averaging 1.05 goals per game.
"Scoring goals in soccer is not easy to do," said Rast. "If you can prevent your opponent from scoring goals, you are always going to have a chance to win the game. So I think early in a season, what you don't want to do is concede goals that are easy for the opponent to score."
Against San Jose State, Santa Clara leads the all-time matchup 24-20-4 with the first meeting coming in 1967. In 2013, the Broncos edged out the Spartans 1-0 with a goal from James Huffer in the 83rd minute.
San Jose State finished the 2013 season 4-13-4 overall with a 3-6-1 record in the Western Athletic Conference. The Spartans were outscored by opponents 18-37 while averaging 0.86 goals per game.
Most recently, San Jose State is coming off of a 2-1 exhibition victory over Sonoma State on Aug. 19 under first-year head coach Simon Tobin. The winning goal came from senior Enrique Montano who averaged .300 shots on goal last season.
On the Santa Clara side, the Broncos have a lot to look forward to this season with 10 new names on the roster. Rast looks to his new players, such as Alfred Edmonds and Valdemar Andersen, to step up in important roles while developing greater responsibility for his returners.
"Edson Cardona had a great freshman year and it will be great to have Steve Eneme back," said Rast. "Our backline is going to be something we will work with to see who will step up and impact our team. Andersen, who is from Denmark, will be a pleasant surprise for us. Alfie, a transfer from Belmont University, is definitely impacting our group right now."
A main player to watch will be starting goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh. The junior from Santa Rosa, Calif. started all 20 matches for the Broncos last season and led the team to six shutouts, garnering a WCC Honorable Mention. McIntosh tallied 87 saves with over 1,800 minutes played in the 2013 season and will be a prominent leader for the Broncos this year.
More than anything, the team is excited to get back into Buck Shaw to display what they have been working on all summer long and in double days.
"Buck Shaw is a great place to play," said Rast. "The field is in perfect condition. I think it's good to settle into what it is going to be like when we play important matches at Buck Shaw before we have to go out and contest things in different environments on the road before conference. "
Game Notes – Sat., Aug. 23 @ 7pm
San Jose State vs. Santa Clara in Santa Clara, Calif. (Buck Shaw Stadium)
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