Nov. 2, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Senior forward Kristi Candau made her final home match at Buck Shaw Stadium memorable, with her golden goal to lead the eighth-ranked Santa Clara University women's soccer team to a key victory over third-ranked Portland this afternoon, 2-1 in double overtime.
It was a battle of league unbeatens, as SCU improves to 11-3-5 overall, 5-0-1 in the conference. Portland takes is first league loss and is 5-1-0 in WCC, 16-3-0 overall. Santa Clara broke the Pilots' 12-match winning streak and is in the driver's seat for its third straight league title. The Broncos will close out the regular season on the road at Gonzaga next Saturday at 1 p.m.
"There was a lot on the line for today's match and this victory was certainly important to our program in terms of staying on track to win a WCC title and obtain a top seeding for the NCAA Tournament," SCU head coach Jerry Smith said.
In a rematch of last year's NCAA Championship game, today's contest provided similar conditions, with a Bronco 1-0 lead at intermission and a 2-1 double-overtime final score, but this time, favoring Santa Clara.
"I told my team at halftime today, just as I told them at halftime during the national championship game, that it's going to take two goals to defeat Portland," Smith said. "Despite saying that, I think we played overly conservative in the second half. We deserved to have a goal scored against us.
"We had a similar situation against UCLA to open the season, and it cost us a victory then," Smith continued. "However, today we had enough left in our tank and enough determination to earn a huge win."
Santa Clara became only the second team to score a first-half goal against the Pilots this season, besting Portland keeper Cori Alexander in the 24th minute. Bronco junior forward Bree Horvath was fouled, setting up a free kick on the left side from about 40 yards. Sophomore defender Micaela Esquivel took the serve. It was place perfectly, drawing Alexander out as she tried to defuse the situation. However, junior midfielder Leslie Osborne beat Alexander to the ball, heading in her 10th goal of the season.
Less than one minute later, Portland rattled the nerves of the 1,327 fans when a Pilot was fouled just outside the penalty box, but their attempts were stopped by freshman goalkeeper Julie Ryder. Ryder diffused two more Pilot attempts, on corner kicks in the final five minutes of the first half, sending the Broncos into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Portland's offense was hampered by seven offsides violations during the match, but broke through in 86th minute, as Lindsey Huie took a sliding shot and beat Ryder high and to the left. Kristen Moore and Imani Dorsey were credited with assists on the play.
Overtime ensued, marking the record sixth extra-period match for the Broncos this season. Candau took a shot in the first overtime that was saved by Alexander. In the second extra frame, Portland had its fourth corner kick of the contest, but couldn't manage a shot. At the other end of the field, freshman forward Tina Estrada followed with a shot that was just wide in the 105th minute.
Less than one minute later, three seniors combined to make their senior day something special. Defender Chardonnay Poole headed a pass to Candau, to turned and took a left-footed shot. Her attempt skimmed off forward Veronica Zepeda's head, and sailed over Alexander's outstretched arms just inside the right post. It marked Candau's fourth goal of the season.
"It was quite the senior effort in that final minute," Candau joked. "I'm so happy for the team; we earned this victory."
In goal, it was a battle of freshmen keepers, as both are ranked in the top 15 nationally in goals-against average. Alexander and Ryder each finished with three saves.