Sept. 22, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - History is on-deck waiting to be made this Friday night at Buck Shaw Stadium as the Santa Clara women's soccer team takes on Saint Louis in hopes of giving head coach Jerry Smith his 300th career victory.
With one victory this weekend, Smith, with a 299-75-25 (.781 winning pct.) in his 19th season at the helm of the women's soccer program, will become only the third Division I head coach to reach the 300-win plateau, joining North Carolina's Anson Dorrance (595 wins) and Connecticut's Len Tsantiris (421 wins).
"I didn't know I was going for my 300th win until I saw it in the paper, it's not something I keep track of," confessed Smith when asked his thoughts on going for No. 300. "Just like with our team, I try to set a good example of staying focused on the task, so for us, its pretty mundane, get a little better, prepare for the game on Friday, try to perform well and get a good win against Saint Louis. Whether it was the first win, the 100th, the 200th, the 300th win it really wouldn't matter."
The fifth-ranked Broncos will also be looking to continue their strong start this weekend against the Billikens on Friday night and opposite the No. 19 Cal Poly Mustangs Sunday afternoon at Buck Shaw Stadium. Santa Clara's 5-1-1 start is their best since the 2001 squad burst out of the gates 6-1-0 en route to the program's first national title.
The Bronco attack will be paced by forwards Tina Estrada, whose golden goal in double-overtime last Sunday gave Santa Clara a 2-1 victory over Cal, and Jordan Angeli, the team's leading scorer with four goals and two assists. Estrada's game-winner in Berkeley was her second of the season and the eighth of her career, while Angeli's playmaking ability contributed not only to Estrada's goal but also to Hayley Siegel's late equalizer last Friday against UCLA.
Friday night's match kicks off a string of three matches in seven days for the Broncos, as following Sunday's tilt with Cal Poly, Santa Clara will head over to Spartan Stadium Wednesday, September 28 to take on San Jose State as part of Rivalry Series Week.
Standing in the way of Smith's milestone victory on Friday night, though, are the Billikens (6-2-0, 1-0-0 Atlantic-10), who are coming off of a pair of shutout victories en route to winning the Toys for Tots Tournament title last weekend in St. Louis.
Saint Louis is led by junior midfielder/forward Maureen Hughes, who was named tournament MVP after posting three goals and an assist in a 5-0 win over Duquesne and a 3-0 blanking of Air Force. Another junior midfielder, Courtney Hulcer, is the main table-setter for the Billikens, as her team-leading 10 points include eight assists.
When asked how the Broncos prepare to head into a match against unranked Saint Louis after an intense weekend of matches against two top-ten schools in UCLA and California, Smith responded by talking about how the Broncos break their season up into six different phases. Phase Two ended with the UCLA match and Phase Three began at Cal, so while Santa Clara remains focused on this weekend's matches, they are also focused on accomplishing their phase goals this weekend, Smith explained.
"We play so many ranked teams on our schedule that whenever we play an unranked team, we talk about the danger in overlooking or the danger in taking for granted that you're going to go out and play well and get a win," Smith added. "Saint Louis only has two losses this year, certainly our players are aware of that and they are aware that it will be a tough game on Friday."
No. 19 Cal Poly is also enjoying a successful start to their season. The Mustangs are off to one of their best starts in school history, sitting at 6-0-2 heading into this weekend.
Junior forward Sharon Day is one of the main playmakers for the Mustangs, leading the squad in every offensive category, most notably with five goals and two assists to her credit. Goalkeeper Liz Hill has also performed well, maintaining a 0.61 GAA with 35 saves so far in 2005.
Friday night's match is the nightcap of a Santa Clara soccer doubleheader, as the 12th-ranked Bronco men will battle Florida International at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling (408) 554-4660 or by going to www.santaclarabroncos.com.