SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After a 1-1 draw in an exhibition match against San Jose State last weekend, the Santa Clara men's soccer team officially opens the 2014 season with a pair of road matches in Omaha, Neb. On Fri., Aug. 29, the Broncos take on Nebraska-Omaha at 5:30 p.m. PST in the season opener. Then on Sun., Aug. 31, Santa Clara faces host-Creighton at 5 p.m. PST. Live webcasts for purchase and free live stats will be available for viewers during both matches.
"On the road, the most important thing for us is to get ready to go into an environment that is going to be a little bit more unfamiliar," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "We have done majority of our training and playing at home. As the visitor, you typically are going to be a little more conservative to start the match—to see the confidence of your opponent. Once you figure that out, you can look for the ways to break that down. This weekend it's important for us to really get out to a good start."
Last weekend against San Jose, Santa Clara outshot the Spartans 8-6 putting three shots on goal in the exhibition match. The Broncos went down a goal in the 46th minute, but were able to tie it up in the 85th minute from the foot of Edson Cardona. Junior Max Ornstil assisted the play.
"As the game went on, it started to loosen up, which was good for us because we started to settle in and play a little bit more," said Rast about the exhibition. "Part of it was that we were down a goal and San Jose was going to give us some things a little easier. There are still some moments of hesitation in what we are doing, and we need to be a little bit sharper in those moments. If we are, that will allow us to be in the match the entire way and give us a chance to play for good results in both matches this upcoming weekend."
On the Santa Clara side, the Broncos have a lot to look forward to this season with 10 new names on the roster. In addition, starting goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh is stepping into a bigger leadership role for the Broncos. 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.
Santa Clara finished 2013 with an overall record of 11-9-0. They were 8-4 in WCC play and took second place in the league behind Loyola Marymount. It was the program's 25th winning season in 27 years.
Santa Clara is picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference this season. The Broncos scored 21 goals in 2013, averaging 1.05 goals per game. The Broncos lost seven seniors from 2013. Edson Cardona is the top-returning scorer, posting three goals and one assist in 14 games during his freshman season.
Nebraska-Omaha also opens its season against Santa Clara on Friday. The Mavericks are led by Christian Garcia, who garnered Newcomer of the Year for the Summit League with four goals and two assists his freshman season. Returner Vance Rookwood is UNO's career record holder in points (23), goals (10), game-winning goals (4) and shots on goal (24). Most recently, Omaha fell 5-2 in an exhibition match to No. 4 UCLA on Aug. 19. The team ended the 2013 season 6-9-1, including 3-3 in the Summit League.
Friday's match will be just the second time these two teams have met. In 2011, the Broncos topped Omaha 4-0 in the two teams' first pairing. Glenn Vass scored his first collegiate goal in the 16th minute of the match to trigger a scoring frenzy. After the 18-minute mark, Santa Clara was up 3-0.
Creighton is coming off of a 4-2 win in its final exhibition match versus No. 21 Wisconsin. The Bluejay's tied their first two exhibition matches earlier in August. CU is led by junior Timo Pitter, who led the team with seven goals and 18 points last season. In addition, senior Jose Ribas is a player to watch, tallying six assists and eight points in 2013. Both players were recognized on the Preseason All-Big East Team while Creighton was picked to finish third in the coaches' poll. The Bluejay's finished last season with a 9-9-2 overall mark and 4-4-1 in the Big East. Creighton has appeared in the NCAA College Cup five times since 1996.
The all-time matchup between Santa Clara and Creighton stands 0-1-2 overall with the first meeting in 1994. The last meeting ended 1-0 in the Bluejay's favor on Sept. 8, 2012. The Broncos took 11 shots against then-No. 3 Creighton in Buck Shaw Stadium before the visiting team came up with the decisive goal in the 68th minute.
Game Notes – Fri., Aug. 29 @ 5:30 p.m.
Santa Clara vs. Nebraska Omaha in Omaha, Neb. (Caniglia Field)
Game Notes – Sun., Aug. 31 @ 5:00 p.m.
Santa Clara vs. Creighton in Omaha, Neb. (Morrison Stadium)
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