SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In its home opener, Santa Clara men's soccer defeated UC Irvine on Saturday night at Stevens Stadium, 1-0. The lone goal of the match was a UC Irvine own goal in the 65th minute.
In what head coach Cameron Rast described as an unsettling match, the Broncos (3-2) were able to pull out a victory. A long ball was played towards the UC Irvine (1-4) back line of defenders when Thomas Janjigian headed the ball back to goalkeeper Elliot Farmer but the ball sailed over Farmer's head and rolled into the back of the net. The goal came at the 65:04 mark and the Broncos did not relinquish their 1-0 lead.
"Sometimes you just need to win games like this," Rast said. "Sometimes you just need to push through on a tough day, against an opponent you feel like you should be doing better against. In the end, we're going to be happy with the result but not happy with the performance. We know that we'll have to be better before we get back on the road against SMU (Southern Methodist University) and Tulsa."
For the fourth time in five games this year, SCU went into the locker room at halftime with the score knotted at zero. UC Irvine quickly put a scare into the Broncos, hitting the post on a shot in the 46th minute. SCU responded with a good spell of its own and was able to keep possession. In that time, the Broncos created three quality scoring chances between seniors Ryan Masch and James Huffer as well as junior Satoshi "Yoshi" Chaffin, but were unable to convert. Sophomore goalkeeper Dakota Havlick made two impressive saves at the 4:17 mark and at 32:17 to keep the Broncos tied at zero.
"In the first half, I thought there were only a couple stretches where we got a hold of the ball and created some moments where we could break them down," Rast said. "Big credit to Irvine, they probably should have been up at halftime. But, we held tight and that's what we've been doing so far this year, that's a strength of our team.
The Broncos only took two shots during the first half and were out-possessed by the Anteaters over the first 45 minutes. However, in the second half SCU took five shots to UCI's three. The Broncos finished the match with seven shots but only freshman Sam Agosti's shot in the 74th minute required a save.
"We reorganized, changed a couple of things in terms of what we wanted to do in the attack," Rast said. "I thought it got a little bit better in the second half. I thought we created enough chances to win the game but, you know, we're fortunate on the goal."
It was another physical match with 30 fouls called and three yellow cards given. The Broncos were whistled 18 times for fouls while Masch (84:19) and Havlick (89:04) were given yellow cards. UC Irvine committed 12 fouls and Daniel Crisostomo was presented a yellow card at the 70:37 mark.
Santa Clara hits the road again for their next two matches. It will face SMU on Friday, Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. PT followed by a matchup at Tulsa on Monday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. PT.