SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 13 Santa Clara women's soccer team improved to 8-3-2 overall (1-0-0 WCC) this afternoon after earning a 1-0 win over San Diego in the opening weekend of West Coast Conference action at Buck Shaw Stadium. Senior Anessa Patton's goal in the 51st minute snapped a 3-0 series win streak held by the Toreros since 2007 and improved SCU's all-time record over USD to 13-6-0.
The Broncos held the edge in shots, 15-12, for the game, but were outshot in the first half, 7-4. Both teams really only had one solid chance to put the ball across the goal line in the first 45 minutes.
Ten minutes into the match, San Diego's leading scorer, Stephanie Ochs, had a clean look on net but junior goalkeeper Bianca Henninger made a spectacular effort to parry the ball out of the upper corner to her right for her first save of the game.
Freshman Julie Johnston had a good attempt with about 15 minutes left in the half. Fellow rookie Sarah Jackson served ball from right flank, but waited just a moment too long to let the ball go, as a defender recovered on Johnston to force her header attempt wide.
"One of the stats we keep is the aggressiveness formula," said head coach Jerry Smith. "There are seven different components that make up that formula, and at halftime I commented to the girls that San Diego was clearly winning the aggressiveness battle. There were a few things we weren't doing well at that point of the game, but the most glaring was we were not the more aggressive team. To be the home team on your conference opener; you have to be the more aggressive team if you want to take control of the game and I thought once we improved that in the second half, that was difference."
Patton's fourth goal of the season at 50:35 was a finish near the goal line after San Diego goalkeeper Courtney Parsons made a great save on sophomore Olivia Klei's shot from just off to the left about 12 yards out. Parson's deflection went up and behind and Patton was first to the ball.
"When you score a goal against San Diego you really have to earn it," said Smith. "Several different players contributed and battled to score that goal."
Patton nearly scored again with 34 minutes to play on a through-ball. Patton and Parsons met the ball at the same time, squirting it loose. While on the ground Patton swung but was denied by a trailing defender. The ball came loose once again but this time Parsons was able to smother it, ending the play.
At the end of 90 minutes, Patton's goal stood up as the game-winner, her second of the season, and the defense did the rest as the Henninger and the back four earned their fifth shutout of the year. Henninger finished with three saves. San Diego's Parsons had five.
"We're always happy with shutouts," said Smith. "Our defense has done a really nice job this year."
"I thought it was a great conference battle," said Smith. "Conference games are often physical matches and USD is well known for their toughness and battling spirit. I thought they put out a great effort today, but we matched that effort. I'm also very happy about having several different people come off the bench and contribute. I thought Bridgett Miller did really well coming off the bench. It wasn't just the starting 11 that won us the game today."
"After taking two tough losses in our last two games, it's also a positive for us to get back to our winning ways and carry the momentum into conference play. Our conference record is what it is all about now and we'll need this momentum heading into two tough road contests next week at Saint Mary's and San Francisco."