Nov. 25, 2005
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - On a frigid, 15-degree Pennsylvania night the Santa Clara women's soccer season came to an end as the No. 5 Broncos lost a hard-fought 2-1 decision to the top-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions at Jeffrey Field.
A Tiffany Weimer goal in the 81st minute that broke a 1-1 tie proved to be the game-winner for the Nittany Lions. Micaela Esquivel netted the Broncos goal in the 50th minute.
"I want to thank my team for a great season this year, we really did have a great season," said head coach Jerry Smith following the match. "We're disappointed ending our season here at Penn State but I'm real proud of my team today. It was a pretty dead-even game, and for us to come out here in this environment I thought we played pretty well."
Both teams took time getting acclimated to the frozen conditions at the outset of the match, trading possession and looking for an opening to exploit. Santa Clara got the first chance of the match in the sixth minute as a Penn State foul gave the Broncos a free kick about 25 yards out. Amanda Poach chipped a pass into the box but Elyse Shelger's shot was blocked before it could reach the goal.
The Nittany Lions replied with a chance of their own eight minutes later, as a Sheree Gray cross was there to be deposited into an open net but the Penn State forward overran it and the Broncos cleared the threat.
Playing a woman down from the 32nd to the 36th minutes when Amanda Poach went off with an injury, the Broncos managed to retain possession for a significant time while they waited for the chance to substitute for Poach, who was still getting treatment on the sidelines. The defense held, allowing Penn State only one shot on goal, which Ryder easily scooped up.
In the 36th minute, with the Broncos finally allowed to switch Poach out, defender Jessica Ballweg ran out onto the pitch for the first time since suffering a broken leg in the opening match of 2004 against Cal Poly. It was Ballweg's first action in 15 months.
The best chance of either team came in the 43rd minute as Penn State earned a free kick about 22 yards out. The ensuing kick went high and the teams went into the break in a scoreless tie.
Things got more aggressive from the second-half whistle, with each team penetrating deep into the other's territory but having nothing to show for it until Esquivel's goal in the 50th minute.
With the Broncos holding possession in the Nittany Lion end, Jordan Angeli streaked ahead from the midfield circle and carried the ball nearly to the top of the box. She cranked off a shot from twenty yards out which was blocked straight into the air and at the feet of Micaela Esquivel. She gathered it in and bent a shot from the left side of the penalty area over Penn State goalkeeper Erin McLeod and into the right-corner of the goal.
Penn State, with their backs against the wall, tried bringing the game to the Bronco zone but were being repulsed until the 64th minute. Tiffany Weimer, the Nittany Lions' leading scorer with 31 goals, who had been held in check all match by the Bronco defense, served a ball into the box and in the ensuing scrum a Bronco defender got a piece of the ball which then rolled past Ryder for an own goal to equalize the match.
Six minutes later Santa Clara nearly regained the lead as Tina Estrada got behind the Penn State back line and with a defender on her got off a point-blank shot which McLeod managed to block, maintaining the tie.
"It really is a game of inches," Smith noted about Estrada's chance. "Tina broke through at 1-1 and got a good shot on goal but McLeod made a good save."
Added Estrada: "I was just hoping to flatten it and get it behind her but [McLeod] made an awesome save and it was a good play on her part."
With ten minutes left in regulation Ryder went way out of net to confront Weimer on the right side, cutting off her angle and receiving great back-up from the defense as they cleared Weimer's crossing attempt.
But one minute later Weimer would not be denied. Penn State's Sheree Gray penetrated the left side of the penalty area and crossed a ball to Weimer who delivered the header for her 32nd goal of the season.
Santa Clara's last best chances came in the 88th minute as Poach sent a screaming bender on net off of a corner kick, but McLeod managed to make the save amid a swarm of bodies. With 15 seconds left, Shelger sent a shot on net but McLeod again came up with the save to end the last major threat.
The Broncos conclude the 2005 season with their 11th-consecutive NCAA quarterfinal appearance, and a final record of 17-5-2.