Broncos Give Fans a Season to Remember in Second Straight Championship Appearance

April 1, 2003

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A Second Straight Shot for the Title
Santa Clara University played for the 2002 NCAA Women's Soccer Championship for the second straight season, falling in overtime to conference rival Portland, at the Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas. The Broncos, the 2001 National Champions, were the tournament's sixth overall seed, and hosted the first four rounds of the 21st NCAA Championship, topping Creighton and Arizona State, both at 5-1 finals, 3-2 over Nebraska, and 3-1 over Michigan in the quarterfinal. Santa Clara opened its ninth overall appearance in the College Cup with a 2-1 victory over North Carolina.

The Broncos finished the season with a 20-5-1 record, making their 14th straight NCAA postseason appearance. Santa Clara received an at-large berth in the 2002 Tournament after earning a share of the West Coast Conference Championship on November 9. Pepperdine, by virtue of a tiebreaker, earned the league's automatic bid.

Live on the Internet
Santa Clara's entire home schedule returned to the Internet, as a live audio broadcast was available for a second season on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Buck Shaw contests could be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on SCU's official athletic website. By logging on, fans received real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer, allowing users to listen to the audio broadcast and keep up with the statistics simultaneously. Ram Fletcher returned as the voice of the Broncos with SCU men's soccer alumni Mark Wojciechowski adding color commentary.

Ending the Dynasty
With its 2-1 victory over North Carolina in the College Cup semifinal on December 6, Santa Clara became the first collegiate team to defeat the Tar Heels on three consecutive occasions. The Broncos topped North Carolina 1-0 in 1999 during the regular season and then won the program's first national championship with a 1-0 victory against the Tar Heels last season in Dallas. In fact, outgoing seniors Aly Wagner and Devvyn Hawkins are the only two people in the country that can boast they are 3-0 against UNC in their careers.

Additionally, Santa Clara was the only team to hold North Carolina scoreless in the first half of competition in 2002.

Wagner Receives MAC Hermann Trophy
Aly Wagner was named the winner of the 2002 Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, presented to the top female player in NCAA Division I soccer, as decided by a vote of current NSCAA members at the NCAA Division I level. Wagner has the distinction of being the first to receive the newly-unified award. Last summer's announcement of the unification of the M.A.C. Award and Hermann Trophy completed the merging of NCAA Division I soccer's three top honors. In 1999, the M.A.C. and NSCAA came together to create a single award recognizing the top Division I players. A three-time finalist, Wagner won the award convincingly. Christie Welsh of Penn State was the runner-up, followed by Catherine Reddick of North Carolina and Christine Sinclair of Portland.

Wagner is the third player from Santa Clara to win Player of the Year honors. Mandy Clemens captured the Hermann Trophy and M.A.C. award in 1999 while Brandi Chastain was named the 1990 Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America Player of the Year. Wagner was a finalist for both the M.A.C. and Hermann awards in 2000 and '01.

More Wagner Honors
Aly Wagner was named one of four finalists for the 2002 Honda Soccer Award, announced in December by the Honda Awards Program. She was the 2001 recipient of the Honda Award after leading the nation in assists while guiding SCU to its first outright women's national championship.

Wagner was also honored as one of eight recipients of the NCAA Today's Top VIII Awards by the NCAA Honors Committee. These winners are a group of distinguished student-athletes from the 2002 calendar year who were recognized for their athletic and academic achievements, character and leadership at the 38th annual NCAA Honors Dinner January 12, at the Disneyland Hotel, in Anaheim, Calif.

NCAA Final Recap
(AP) - - Christine Sinclair scored her second goal in the second overtime period Sunday, sending Portland to a 2-1 victory over Santa Clara in the NCAA Women's College Cup final and giving the Pilots their first national championship. Sinclair, who tied the game with a goal in the 61st minute, put back a rebound off her own shot for the win in sudden-death overtime. Devvyn Hawkins scored for Santa Clara. It was just the third Women's College Cup final to go to overtime.

Santa Clara applied most of the pressure in the first extra period, forcing Pilot goalkeeper Lauren Arase to make three tough saves. Arase left the game after getting kneed in the head in a collision in the penalty box. Portland went on the offensive in the second overtime. Sinclair dashed into the penalty area toward a low cross and was able to flick it on goal. Santa Clara goalkeeper Alyssa Sobolik made the block but the ball bounced off her chest, hit the right post and bounced back to Sinclair, who calmly put it into the net. Santa Clara and Portland are West Coast Conference rivals.

Sunday's first half was scoreless as both teams worked to find their touch on a field that was made soggy by a steady drizzle. Portland's defense, which hadn't given up a goal in six games, finally cracked in the 53rd minute when Hawkins finished a corner kick with a volley past Arase. Portland tied the game eight minutes later, when Sinclair scored on an unlikely shot aided by the slick conditions. She broke free down the left side and reversed field before sending a low cross into the box. The ball skipped on the wet grass and curled around Sobolik, sliding just inside the right post.

NCAA Semifinal Recap
(AP) -- Veronica Zepeda scored two goals and defending champion Santa Clara advanced to the title game of the NCAA Women's College Cup with a 2-1 victory over North Carolina on Friday night. Santa Clara will play West Coast Conference rival Portland in Sunday's championship game, as the Pilots beat Penn State 2-0 in the other semifinal. North Carolina has won 16 national titles and had never failed to reach the College Cup. But the Tar Heels have lost three in a row to Santa Clara, including a 1-0 setback in last year's final. The Broncos scored in the 10th minute. Zepeda took a short pass from Bree Horvath at the top of the penalty area, dribbled around North Carolina defender Catherine Reddick and struck a low shot that went through Jenni Branam's legs into the net. It was the Broncos' only shot of the first half. Zepeda made it 2-0 in the 72nd minute. She collected a loose ball in the penalty area and struck a one-touch shot into the top of the net. North Carolina closed within 2-1 on Lindsay Tarpley's 16th goal of the season seven minutes later. The Tar Heels outshot Santa Clara 19-7, but couldn't get the equalizer in a frantic rally against a Broncos defense that packed in around its goal in the final minutes. Sunday's title game will be just the second in the 21-year history of the tournament without the Tar Heels, and the first since 1995.

Candau Counts in NCAA Tournament
Kristi Candau has scored eight NCAA Tournament goals in three postseasons for the Broncos, putting her in a four-way tie for the second spot in Santa Clara records. Included in that list is 1999 Player of the Year Mandy Clemens and WSUA player Jacqui Little. Aly Wagner just moved ahead of her with her ninth career postseason score, a penalty kick against Michigan. Additionally, Wagner has posted nine NCAA assists, good for a tie in the top spot with Danielle Slaton in SCU postseason records, and leads the list in game-winning goals, with five. Candau is right behind her, posting her third game-winner of an NCAA Tournament against Arizona State.

Championship Earns Smith a New 'Do
In 2001, the Broncos turned head coach Jerry Smith into a blonde after winning the West Coast Conference Championship. Beginning that season, the WCC adopted an award that rewards the athletic programs within the league that have the top overall performances in conference play. The "Commissioner's Cup" is an all-sports award that utilizes a point system reflecting the finish of each team in conference standings to determine the top overall athletic program in the WCC. At the end of the year the league presents men and women's all-sports awards as well as the overall Commissioner's Cup to the top performing athletic program. The points are awarded based on regular-season or conference championship finishes in the league's 13 sponsored sports, with eight points for the champion, seven for second-place and so on.

With that in mind, Smith challenged his player to win the conference championship not just for their team, but for the good of the entire athletic department. The girls requested some fun and Smith agreed to comply, not knowing what he was agreeing to until after the team captured the title. The Broncos gave their coach a dye job and an ear piercing. He repeated the bet in 2002 and arrived on the sideline for the NCAA Tournament with a red mohawk and kept it through the College Cup.

The Fight for the WCC Championship
Pepperdine and Santa Clara both won their final West Coast Conference matches, and therefore tied for the league championship. The Waves made history with the title, as they become the first team other than SCU and Portland to claim a piece of the crown. Pepperdine earned the league's automatic bid since it won the tie-breaker, head-to-head competition, in a 1-0 win over Santa Clara on October 25.

In the Rankings
Santa Clara finished the 2002 season ranked in the top 10 in all four polls. Soccer Buzz Magazine listed the Broncos third, while heading into the NCAA Tournament, Soccer America Magazine and Soccer Times listed the Broncos fourth. The NSCAA/adidas poll ranked SCU sixth. The Broncos faced 15 nationally-ranked opponents in 26 matches, going 9-5-1 in those contests.

Senior Aly Wagner finishes her career as the 13th best in NCAA history in assists per game.


Wagner Does Double Duty for Country, College
U.S. Women's National Team member Aly Wagner assisted on three goals in the first half of the team's 9-0 victory over Panama on November 2. She was then driven down to Portland, and on 13 hours rest in between matches, played a full 90 minutes for the Broncos in their win against the Pilots. Wagner missed six SCU contests due to national team commitments this season, as the United States was qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup in China by competing in the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup. She opened the Gold Cup with a goal in the fifth minute against Mexico to lead her team to a 3-0 victory. After missing two matches in September, Wagner joined the Broncos for three weeks. She then rejoined the USNT on Oct. 21 and was out of the Bronco lineup until the NCAA Tournament. The Gold Cup, which also serves as the Regional championship, concluded Nov. 9 in Pasadena, Calif., when Wagner assisted on Mia Hamm's golden goal, giving the United States a 2-1 victory over Canada.

Wagner's departure is not the first time the Broncos have lost players due to the National Team. Devvyn Hawkins was called up earlier in September, but declined due to injury. Additionally, Santa Clara began the season without three starters, Jessica Ballweg, Megan Kakadelas and Leslie Osborne, as the trio was leading the United States to its first-ever U19 World Championship.

Broncos Upset Fourth-Ranked Portland
The November 3 Bronco victory handed the Pilots only their fifth loss all-time in home WCC matches and become the first conference team to take two away from Portland at Merlo Field. Additionally, Santa Clara is only the fourth team to have multiple wins in Portland since 1990, joining Notre Dame (4), North Carolina (3) and Virginia (2), and is one of nine teams to have ever won on Merlo Field.

Wagner Moving Up NCAA, WCC Charts
Aly Wagner finished her Santa Clara career as the 13th best in NCAA history in career assists per game. In 81 collegiate contests, Wagner earned 49 assists, for a .604 average, just ahead of U.S. National Team coach April Heinrichs. On the West Coast Conference career points list, at 124. Wagner has also broken into the WCC top 15 career goal scorers with 38. She is also fourth on the league's list for career assists, with 48.

Win over USD Marks 11th Straight WCC Opener
Santa Clara opened West Coast Conference play with a win for the 11th straight season, this year defeating San Diego 3-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Wagner, Hawkins Drafted in WUSA First Round
Aly Wagner was selected the No. 1 pick the 2003 WUSA Draft, as the San Diego Spirit called her name on February 2 at WUSA headquarters in Atlanta. It marks the second straight year a Bronco has been the top pick, following former SCU standout Danielle Slaton's selection to the Carolina Courage last year.

Wagner, the 2002 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy winner, was not the only Bronco selected in the first round. Fellow senior midfielder Devvyn Hawkins was selected third overall by the Boston Breakers. The All-Americans led Santa Clara to the 2001 National Championship and followed with an appearance in the 2002 title game. They joined their respective team camps at the end of February and open their seasons this weekend.

A Look Ahead
(From the Dec. 13, 2002 San Francisco Chronicle) --Tony DiCicco, the WUSA commissioner and former national team coach, scouted the College Cup in Austin, Texas, and saw several players he liked, including seniors Aly Wagner and Devvyn Hawkins, as well as sophomores Leslie Osborne and Jessica Ballweg.

Wagner and (Christine) Sinclair were clearly the two stars of the NCAA finals," DiCicco said. "Wagner shows a higher level of understanding of the game and will bring a lot to this league.

"Osborne and Ballweg are young, however, they have a wonderful pedigree for playing in the WUSA."

Broncos Sign Six to Class of 2008
Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith announced the signing of six players to National Letters of Intent in February. Joining the Bronco Class of 2007 will include NSCAA/adidas High School All-Americans Marian Dalmy of Lakewood, Colo., and Lauren Zealear of Nevada City, Nev. Also signing with the Broncos is Tina Estrada of Fremont, Tiffany Roberts of Phoenix, Ariz., Julie Ryder of DeKalb, Ill, and Elyse Shelger of Sugarland, Texas.

"This class is clearly one of the top two classes we have ever signed," Smith said. "All six players, although uniquely different, will have a tremendous impact on our team as soon as next season. All of them have national experiences with their club team and Olympic development teams, as well as youth National Team experience and all six will be vying for starting positions--and impactful positions--on our team."

Wagner #7 Replica Jersey T-Shirts on Sale
Exclusive Offer! Get your replica jersey/t-shirt of national player of the year Aly Wagner. This item is only available online at Santa ClaraBroncos.com. Fans from as far east as New York, as far north as South Dakota and as far south as Georgia have already placed their orders. Limited quantities available. Available in Youth and Adult sizes. Order today!

Bend it Like Beckham
There's a Santa Clara University twist in the smash-hit soccer movie Bend It Like Beckham. Starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightly (Star Wars: Episode 1--The Phantom Menace), this critically-acclaimed film tells the story of 18-year old Jess' dream to play soccer professionally like her hero, Manchester United star, David Beckham. Bend It Like Beckham may inspire you to chase your own dreams! Check out www.foxsearchlight.com/bendit for more details and look for Bend it Like Beckham coming to a theatre near you.

Season Opener Breaks Regular Season Attendance Record
The 4,756 fans that attended Santa Clara's season opener against Stanford on August 30 made history, as the attendance record for a regular season home match was broken. The former mark was set October 17, 1999, when 4,051 fans attended the Broncos' 4-2 victory over Notre Dame.

"It was awesome and it was loud," head coach Jerry Smith said after the match. "There were so many ooohs and aaaahs, which was really exciting. A victory would have been nice at the end of the day, but it was a great crowd."

Athletic Department Raises National Championship Flag
Fans attending the Broncos' home opener against Stanford watched the athletic department honor the 2001 National Champions by raising a flag near the scoreboard at the south end of the Stadium. Several women's soccer alumni joined the current players on the field to help present the banner to the crowd.

"It's taken a number of years to get to this point and there are a lot of players that have come before this 2001 team that helped us slowly but surely climb the ladder and get to a place where we could win the NCAA title," head coach Jerry Smith said. "This was really something we won on behalf of all the players that have come through our Santa Clara University women's soccer program."