BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Santa Clara men's soccer dropped its final nonconference match of the regular season on Tuesday, losing, 1-0, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The Blazers took the lead in the first half and despite continuous pressure, the Broncos were unable to breakthrough for the tiebreaker.
The Blazers (5-3-3) got on the board at the 29:41 point in the match, marking only the second time all year the Broncos (5-4) have allowed a goal in the first half. Santa Clara committed a foul and the Blazers scored on the ensuing set piece. Ryan Sullivan took the set piece and then Laurent Mathieu headed the ball to Tyler Tarnue who finished the play.
"When you travel, you're always going to learn things," head coach Cameron Rast said. "For most of the match, we dictated the run of play, we had to chase a bit but for the most part we were in control. I think it was more disappointing that we gave up our first set piece goal of the season. It was just a bouncing ball that opened up and they pounced on it quicker than we did. I'm disappointed that it cost us the game."
The Broncos out-shot the Blazers, 7-6, with UAB taking all six of its shots in the first half. However, only one of the seven SCU shots required a save from UAB. Junior Satoshi "Yoshi" Chaffin continuously looked to create some offense from the wings but was often double and triple teamed by the Blazers defenders. Chaffin took two shots on the night along with sophomore Andres Jimenez. In the final seconds of the match, junior Carlos Delgadillo played a perfect back-heel pass to Jimenez right in the middle of the 18-yard box but a UAB defender blocked his shot.
We came here and competed and controlled most of the flow against a good team on the road," Rast said. "The big challenge continues to be capitalizing on our chances. We got into some good spots where we didn't pull the trigger or didn't do well with it. Unfortunately, that was the difference in the match."
SCU begins WCC action at San Francisco on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. PT. The Broncos will look to defend their 2015 WCC title, a feat that has not been accomplished in the WCC since 2006 and 2007 when the Broncos won back-to-back league championships.
"In this match, we had a chance to climb into better position in the RPI and push our conference forward," Rast said. "Having conceded it, we're in the position where WCC play is really important for us to get into the NCAA Tournament. It's important to be playing well in league play because it's the only guaranteed way in. We've done a lot to prepare ourselves against good opponents. We aren't taking our moments as well as we need to and that has to change."