#15 Santa Clara Women's Soccer Season Preview

 Santa Clara talks about the first practice of the 2011 season!

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Coming off a second-place finish in the WCC and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2010, Santa Clara is ranked No. 15 by the NSCAA and looks to make 2011 a season to remember.

The season marks the 10 year anniversary of the Broncos' 2001 National Championship and head coach Jerry Smith, entering his 25th year at Santa Clara, and his players are ready to make a run at the school's 11th College Cup appearance and 22nd NCAA tournament berth.

Santa Clara began preparation for its upcoming season on Aug. 3 with two-a-day practices. The Broncos open their season at San Jose State on Fri., Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. The home schedule begins on Sun. Sept. 11 at 11:30 a.m. when defending national champion #1 Notre Dame comes to Buck Shaw. The following weekend national runner-up #2 Stanford, who knocked Santa Clara out of the NCAA tournament in 2010, will visit the Mission Campus for a Sept. 18 game at 8:00 p.m.

As for now, the Broncos are focusing on preparing for the season and aren't thinking about their games just yet.

"We're thrilled to be in our preseason," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith. "We have a wonderfully talented group in camp and the level of each training session is going to be very high."

With nine newcomers, Smith knows that there is a lot of work ahead.

"We're excited about the challenge of coming together as a new team," said Smith. "To that end, we know we have a tremendous amount of work in front of us. That's what preseason is about: working together and coming together. This is what we love to do and we know that if we put in the work and find a way to come together, we will enjoy a wonderful payoff at the end of the season."

TopDrawerSoccer.com ranked Santa Clara's incoming class as the fourth-best nationally. In addition to nine freshmen, the Broncos return several key players from the 2010 team that registered 13 wins. All-American and All-WCC First Team selection Bianca Henninger and 2010 WCC Freshman of the Year Julie Johnston are among the top returners. Junior defender Olivia Klei is coming off a season in which she was named All-WCC Second Team. Junior midfielder/forward Lauren Matheson, sophomore midfielder/forward Ellie Rice and junior midfielder Meleana Shim were All-WCC honorable mention in 2010.

The Broncos will definitely miss the class of 2010. Four seniors from the 2010 roster received All-WCC recognition last season but new co-captains Henninger and senior center back Margueritte Aozasa look to help soften the loss of last year's seniors with their leadership.

"A lot of being a captain is focusing on team-building," said Aozasa. "We need to set a good foundation for this season starting with these first practices."

Santa Clara will be featured twice on national television this season. The first is at Portland on Oct. 21 at 8p.m. and the second is on Nov. 4 at San Diego at 6 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPNU.

For more information and to buy tickets please contact the Santa Clara Ticket Office by phone at (408) 554-4660 or via email at BroncoTickets@scu.edu.