The Santa Clara women's soccer team topped two-time NCAA tournament runner-up Stanford 2-1 to finish its spring schedule undefeated at 5-0. Against the Cardinal, Lauren Matheson scored the Broncos' first goal on an assist from Meleana Shim. The second goal was scored by Bridgett Miller with the assist coming from Matheson.
The Broncos were not only undefeated in their spring schedule, they dominated their opponents. The only goal they allowed in five matches was at Stanford. All-American goalie Bianca Henninger and back-up goalie Molly Mettler shined for Santa Clara. While Henninger played most of the minutes, Mettler proved her worth as a Division I goalie by not allowing a goal in her time vs. Fresno State and UC Davis.
There were four main goals for the season that head coach Jerry Smith, entering his 25th season at the helm of Santa Clara women's soccer, focused on accomplishing. The first was creating more chances to score, second was to score more, third was to improve one-on-one defense and the final goal was to work to organize the back line of players better. With a 1-0 victory over Cal, 3-0 victory over Fresno State, 2-0 victories over UC Davis and Cal Poly and a 2-1 victory over Stanford, it is safe to say that the Broncos improved in all of these areas.
The Broncos were able to achieve these goals in spite of several injuries, including two proven starters: sophomore Allie Vernon and junior Jenny LaPonte. Despite missing the spring season both Vernon and LaPonte are expected back for the start of the fall season. "We are very optimistic about both of them returning," said Smith. "We expect them to have an impact on our team in the fall."
After being knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament last fall the Broncos enter this season with high expectations. The expectations are raised by the fourth best recruiting class in the country, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. The website said, "a very strong class for the Broncos this year who snag two of our Top 100 prospects." In all, Santa Clara is welcoming in 10 recruits to go with an already talented roster. "We had a great spring and a great group of players here," said Smith. "By adding a top five recruiting class and getting Jenny and Allie back on the field we have raised our already high expectations."
Santa Clara will look to add to its 21 NCAA tournament appearances and 10 Final Fours. Their last trip to the Final Four came in 2004 where they lost to Notre Dame in the national semi-finals. The Broncos last national title came in 2001 when they beat North Carolina 1-0. The players and coaches are hoping an undefeated spring season is a sign of things to come.
In the last two seasons Stanford has knocked Santa Clara out of the NCAA tournament en route to the championship game. For nearly 10 seasons Santa Clara was able to beat Stanford in its spring game but once Stanford got a victory Smith felt it gave them an edge in both NCAA tournament games. Smith hopes the balance swings back in Santa Clara's favor with their win. "This is a little step forward," said Smith. "This win could help us in terms of our psychology going into the 2011 season to give us the confidence we need."