September 29, 2009

No. 21 Pilots, Zags Visit Santa Clara This Weekend

Sept. 29, 2009

 Watch Live on Broncos' All-Access

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University begins its quest for the school's 11th West Coast Conference men's soccer championship Friday, October 2 when the Broncos host the 21st-ranked University of Portland Pilots. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Santa Clara's Buck Shaw Stadium.

This weekend marks the beginning of SCU's 13-match WCC schedule. The Gonzaga University Bulldogs visit the Santa Clara campus Sunday, October 4 at 2:30 p.m. Sunday's match with Gonzaga is the second part of a women's and men's soccer doubleheader. The 11th-ranked Santa Clara women will be playing No. 14 California at 12 noon.

Facing a nationally-ranked team is nothing new for Santa Clara (2-4-2). Portland will be the fifth SCU opponent in nine matches who has been ranked nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) this season.

"It's great to have (Portland) at home early," said Santa Clara Head Coach Cameron Rast. "They will be riding the highs of getting some good early results. They have a dominating player in Collen Warner. Gonzaga will be a tough test as well. Gonzaga is just going to go toe-to-toe with you, and that's what they do. They make a lot of good things happen."

The Broncos are trying to rebound from its first losing season in 23 years, finishing a disappointing 4-9-7 in 2008 - ending a run of seven-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. SCU's rich soccer tradition includes 18 NCAA Tournament berths, five NCAA College Cups (Final Four), 17 All-Americans and one NCAA Championship.

LIVE COVERAGE: Friday night's match with Portland and Sunday's meeting with Gonzaga both can be watched live via ALL-ACCESS on Santa Clara University's official athletics website (www.SantaClaraBroncos.com). Chetan Chaudhari (play-by-play) will call the action Friday night, Anthony Passarelli will describe the play on Sunday. Additionally, live scoring for both matches will be available via GAMETRACKER on (www.SantaClaraBroncos.com).

SCU HEAD COACH CAM RAST: Cameron Rast enters his eighth season at the helm of the Santa Clara men's soccer program. The three-time West Coast Conference "Coach of the Year" (2003, 2006 & 2007) has led the Broncos to five NCAA Tournament appearances and three WCC titles. He has coached 51 players who have earned All-WCC honors, 16 NSCAA All-Far West Region award-winners, developed 13 future professionals, and coached six All-Americans - all in just seven seasons. His overall career record entering the 2009 season stands at 87-38-24 (.664). During an outstanding player career, Rast scored 11 goals as the captain of SCU's 1989 NCAA National Championship team. A two-time collegiate All-American, Rast would go on to captain the U.S. Olympic Team in 1992.

PORTLAND: The 21st-ranked Pilots (5-1-1) and coach Bill Irwin have cracked the Top 25, beating two ranked teams during its current six-match unbeaten streak. The Pilots shook-off a 3-0 loss to then-No. 16 Virginia in its season-opener, going-on to beat then-No. 21 St. Louis 3-1, defeat Washington 2-1 on the road and most recently topple No. 17 Creighton 2-1. All-WCC goalkeeper Austin Guerrero has been a big reason for Portland's early-season success, saving 30 shots - including nine against Creighton to allow the Pilots a victory despite being outshot 22-12.

vs. Santa Clara.... Portland hasn't beat Santa Clara at Buck Shaw Stadium since 2004. The Broncos and Pilots have split all but one season series since the WCC went into its double round-robin regular season format that same year. Then-freshman Eric Masch scored twice, including the game-winner as Santa Clara won a 3-2 overtime decision vs. Portland November 2, 2008 at Buck Shaw. The all-time series favors the Broncos 17-11-6.

GONZAGA: The Bulldogs (3-2-2) have tied two quality opponents in Penn State and Oregon State. A 3-0 loss at New Mexico on Sunday, September 20 snapped a three-match winning streak. The Zags head into Friday night's match at St. Mary's having not played in almost two weeks. The Bulldogs tied for second last season in the WCC and were picked to finish third by the league's coaches in 2009.

vs. Santa Clara... Last year marked the first time Gonzaga beat Santa Clara twice in a single-season. The Zags have always played the Broncos tough. SCU owns a slim 10-8-3 all-time edge in the series, with the two teams playing even (5-5-2) in 12 meetings since Cameron Rast took over the Santa Clara program in 2002.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Santa Clara team captain and All-WCC defender/midfielder Jalil Anibaba anchored the Broncos' defense in Sunday's shutout of San Jose State. The junior from Davis, Calif. can play a number of different positions, providing scoring chances when asked to move forward. Anibaba garnered All-America honors by Soccer America in 2008.

Portland senior Collen Warner, a returning First Team All-WCC selection fired-off eight shots last week in UP's 2-0 victory over Cal Poly in Seattle. Warner ranks second in the league with 23 shots on the year. He has scored twice and distributed two assists to lead the Pilots with six points.

Gonzaga senior defender Nick Barclay, the 2008 West Coast Conference "Defender of the Year." A preseason All-WCC pick by the league's coaches, Barclay is a physical player who was forced to sit out the 2008 regular season finale due to card accumulation. Barclay and the Zags' defense will be trying to limit the chances of a Santa Clara offense that has scored just twice in its last four matches entering the week.

LAST TIME OUT: Santa Clara completed its non-conference schedule with its second consecutive tie, playing San Jose State to a 0-0 draw in downtown San Jose Sunday night. Santa Clara (2-4-2) survived a 22-shot attack from SJSU, while its own offense managed just two shots on goal. The Broncos were held scoreless for the third time this year.

"Early in the season we were conceding too many goals," said Santa Clara Head Coach Cameron Rast. "We've made some adjustments in the back and quite honestly I think our defense is really solid right now. That part had to be solved to make a run at conference. Now the other part is to get the attack into place."

San Jose State (2-6-1) threatened right up to the final horn. Nick Cukar nearly won it for SJSU in the first overtime, left-footing one of his seven shots off the far post. SCU keeper Larry Jackson was fantastic for the entire 110 minutes, saving six shots for the second-straight game.

RECENT RESULTS/UPCOMING SCHEDULE:
L, 3-1 @ #7 California (9/20)
T (2OT), 1-1 vs. #25 BROWN (9/25)
T (2OT), 0-0 @ San Jose State (9/27)
vs. #21 PORTLAND (10/2)
vs. GONZAGA (10/4)
@ San Francisco (10/9)
@ LMU (10/16)

TITLE CONTENDERS: Santa Clara has been projected as the West Coast Conference runners-up according to the 2009 WCC men's soccer preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Broncos are one year removed from winning back-to-back WCC Championships and advancing into the third round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

"The preseason coaches poll shows there is a lot of respect for the quality of players we have in our program and the tradition of success we've had in conference play," said Rast. "Our preseason schedule should have us well-prepared to make a run for the conference crown later this season."

2009 WCC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. San Francisco - 36 (6)
2. Santa Clara - 24
T3. Loyola Marymount - 23 (1)
T3. Gonzaga - 23
5. San Diego - 19
6. Portland - 16
7. Saint Mary's - 6
Points (First place votes)

ALL-WCC DEFENDER: Bronco center defender Jalil Anibaba has been named to the 2009 WCC Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference team. Anibaba, a junior from Davis, California, is in the midst of a storied collegiate career. He was named the WCC "Freshman of the Year" in 2007. As a sophomore in 2008 Anibaba garnered All-America honors from Soccer America and was named to the All-WCC Second Team.

NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS - 20th ANNIVERSARY: The 1989 Santa Clara Broncos forever put the name `Santa Clara' on the men's collegiate soccer map, claiming a share of the NCAA National Championship. The last undefeated (20-0-3) team in Division I men's soccer, SCU had seven players earn All-West Coast Conference honors, including Jeff Baicher, the NCAA Championship Offensive MVP. 1989 team captain Cameron Rast, and current SCU head coach, was honored as an All-American.

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER AT SCU: The San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS have signed a three-year lease with Santa Clara University to use the Broncos' soccer facilities. SCU's Buck Shaw Stadium and its practice facility at Stanton Field have received major renovations and upgrades to the playing surfaces, press box, entrance, locker rooms and drainage systems this offseason.

ELEVEN BRONCOS PLAYING IN MLS: More than 50 Santa Clara players have gone on to play professional soccer, including 11 on MLS rosters entering the 2009 season. Four Broncos were chosen off the 2007 West Coast Conference title team in the 2008 MLS Draft - the most-ever from a single SCU class. Four-time All-WCC honoree Jide Ogunbiyi was selected No. 18 overall by the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2008, the second-highest MLS draft pick in program history.

TICKETS: For tickets and more information call the Santa Clara ticket office at (408) 554-4660.