SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara women's soccer, ranked No. 7 in the country this week, will look to seal its first West Coast Conference Championship since 2006 on Fri., Nov. 4 at San Diego. The game will be broadcast live nationally on ESPNU at 6 p.m. In 2006 the Broncos finished 5-1-1 in conference play and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos are in first place in the WCC with a 6-0-1 record in conference play while the Toreros are tied for second with Pepperdine with a record of 6-1-0.
Last year Santa Clara topped San Diego 1-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium to break a three-game losing streak against the Toreros. The last time Santa Clara won in San Diego was in 2005 when the Broncos left with a 2-0 victory.
**Jerry Smith is in his 25th season as SCU head coach (382-117-43)
**The last time Santa Clara had as few as one loss through 19 games was 1999 when they started the season 23-0 and advanced the College Cup in San Jose, Calif.
**The Broncos are on a 11-game unbeaten streak, going 10-0-1 in those games
**Santa Clara is 13-6 all-time vs. San Diego
**The Broncos fired 35 shots vs. USF on Sun., Oct. 16, the most by any team in the WCC in 2011
**Santa Clara has had seven games this season where a player has scored at least two goals
**Santa Clara is one of only five remaining road-unbeatens in D-I women's soccer
**Goalkeeper Bianca Henninger has been added to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List
**Hennigner has also been nominated for the 2011 Lowe's Senior Class Award
**SCU returns six players named to the WCC's 2010 all-conference teams
**Bianca Henninger and Margueritte Aozasa have been named team co-captains
SAN DIEGO: The Toreros are led by Stephanie Ochs who has scored eight goals and added eight assists to lead her team with 24 points. She is second in the WCC in both points and assists and is tied for fourth in goals. Elissa Magracia has four goals and six assists while Natalie Garcia has five goals and an assist to rank second and third on the team in points, respectively. There have been 11 Toreros to record at least one point on the season.
Courtney Parsons has started all 18 games in net and has a 0.85 GAA which is good for fourth in the conference. Her 55 saves and 5 shutouts rank her seventh and tied for third, respectively. In conference play Parsons has stepped up her play by allowing only a 0.56 GAA and registering a .826 save percentage.
NATIONALLY RANKED: Santa Clara enters the week ranked No. 7 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). The last time the Broncos were ranked as high as seventh was 2007 when they peaked at No. 1.
2011 NSCAA TOP 25 (As of Nov. 1, 2011)
2. Oklahoma State
7. Santa Clara
9. Wake Forest
11. Penn State
12. West Virginia
13. Boston University
14. Florida State
17. North Carolina
19. South Carolina
20. Boston College
21. Oregon State*
22. Texas A&M
24. UC Irvine*
25. William & Mary
*Santa Clara opponents in 2011
QUOTABLE: "People that do competitive athletics are adrenaline junkies and like all other Division I teams we are not only trying to win our conference but also win the national championship. To be in the hunt for a championship at the end of the season is what we want. It is exhilarating to get that rush," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith about playing for the program's first WCC title since 2006. "Also, it is wonderful experience to have a do-or-die game to end the regular season. The NCAA Tournament is win or go home and it is important for us to learn to control our emotions in those games."
MILLER REPEATS AS CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior forward Bridgett Miller was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Nov. 1 for the second week in a row for her performance against then-undefeated No. 3 Pepperdine (Oct. 28) and Loyola Marymount (Oct. 30). Miller scored the only goal in a 1-0 Bronco win over Pepperdine and added another against LMU. The game-winner against Pepperdine was the third game-winner in as many games for Miller. After scoring against LMU she now has four goals in the last four Bronco games. She had two career goals entering this stretch. Miller was also named WCC Player of the Week on Oct. 24 for her two-goal weekend at Portland and at Gonzaga.
Against Pepperdine, with seven seconds left in the half goalkeeper Bianca Henninger came to midfield to take a free kick. She sent the ball into the box and after it bounced around Bridgett Miller got a handle and chopped the ball on the ground that found the only path through the defense for the goal. The goal made the score 1-0 Broncos where the game would end.
In the 47th minute against LMU Sarah Jackson centered a ball into the box that Miller headed past the goalkeeper to make the score 4-0.
SCARY GOOD IN OCTOBER: On Oct. 2, in a 5-0 Santa Clara win over San Diego State, freshman Sofia Huerta registered the first Bronco hat trick since Leslie Osborne accomplished the feat in a 5-0 win vs. Pepperdine on Oct. 19, 2003. Bree Horvath also had a hat trick that same year on Aug. 31 in a 9-1 Bronco victory in San Jose, Calif. against San Jose State.
Huerta's three goals and one assist helped her be recognized as the West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Oct. 3. The points were the first of Huerta's collegiate career.
On Oct. 9, in the first conference game of her career vs. Saint Mary's, Huerta scored both Bronco goals, including the game-winner in overtime.
Huerta was at it again on Oct. 16 against San Francisco. She scored two more goals against the Dons to push her total to seven goals in the last four games.
"I've been going out and shooting on my own to try and help the team," said Huerta. "I don't care that I scored, I just care that we've won. I don't know what's sparked the scoring but I'm just glad we're scoring because it means we're winning."
WAGNER AND SLATON HONORED: Captains of the 2001 national championship team Aly Wagner and Danielle Slaton had their jerseys honored at halftime of the Saint Mary's game on Oct. 9. Wagner and Slaton join Brandi Chastain as the only Bronco women's soccer players to have their jerseys honored.
Wagner played for the Broncos from 1999 to 2002. She currently ranks in the top-10 in Santa Clara history in goals scored with 39 and assists with 49. She is also seventh on the single season list with 17 goals in 2001 and tied for second with 20 assists in 2001. Her numerous individual honors include three All-American and All-WCC selections, the 2002 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, the 2001 Honda Award and the 2001 College Cup Offensive MVP.
Slaton played for Santa Clara from 1998 to 2001 and ranks eighth on the all-time list with 35 assists. She is also tied for first on the Bronco post-season list with nine assists. Slaton was a four-time All-American and the 2001 College Cup Defensive MVP. Off the field she was the 2002 WCC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was named the Arthur Ashe Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
PARITY IN WOMEN'S SOCCER: Santa Clara has five ties on the season. The last time Santa Clara tied as many as five games in a season was in 2003 when the team finished 14-4-6 and advanced to the national quarterfinals.
"What's happening in the women's soccer game in my 25 years is that there is a lot more parity," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith. "It's just a lot harder to win games. If you look at anybody's winning percentage, in the last few years as compared to the last 10 or 15 years, I guarantee you everyone's is down. Notre Dame's is down, North Carolina's is down – everybody's is down. It's harder to win games for even a team as good as Stanford, they already have a tie vs. Maryland."
BRONCO WEEKLY SPORTS WRAP: Junior women's soccer player Lauren Matheson has taken over as co-host of The Bronco Weekly Sports Wrap with men's water polo player John Nash. The program features Bronco highlights from the previous week as well as interviews with players and coaches.
OSBORNE ADDED TO HONORED JERSEYS: Leslie Osborne's was added to the list of Broncos' to have their jersey honored this season. Osborne had her jersey honored at halftime of the game against BYU on Thu., Oct. 13. She was a Bronco from 2001-05 and was a freshman on the 2001 national championship team.
Osborne was a three-time All-American as well as the 2004 Honda Award Winner. She was just the third Bronco to win the Honda Awards, following Brandi Chastain in 1190 and Aly Wagner in 2001, both of whom had their jersey honored earlier this season. She was also named to the 2001 and 2004 College Cup All-Tournament team and was a two-time WCC Player of the Year. She ranks sixth on Santa Clara women's soccer's all-time goals list with 44 and is ninth in assists with 34.
In addition to her time on the Mission Campus, Osborne has played professional soccer for FC Gold Pride and the Boston Breakers, appearing in 52 games. She is also a member of the U.S. National Team, having appeared in 61 matches, and played in the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup.
SANTA CLARA HEAD COACH JERRY SMITH: SCU Head Coach Jerry Smith enters his 25th season at the helm of the Santa Clara women's soccer program in 2011. Although he is most known for the development of his players and teams, Smith also produces success and is easily the winningest women's soccer coach in Santa Clara history, having compiled a record of 382-117-43 (.705). Since taking over the head coaching duties at Santa Clara in the spring of 1987, Smith has built the Bronco soccer program into a national power. For 19 consecutive seasons, his Broncos reached the NCAA Tournament prior to 2008 and have consistently ranked among the top 10 teams in the country. He has taken the Broncos to 10 College Cup Final Fours and a national championship in 2001. In addition, his Bronco teams have won nine West Coast Conference titles.
SANTA CLARA WOMEN'S SOCCER BY THE NUMBERS:
**143 All-WCC Selections
**24 College Cup All-Tournament Team Selections
**22 NCAA Tournament Appearances
**10 College Cup Appearances
**9 WCC Championships
**8 WCC Players of the Year
**8 WCC Freshmen of the Year
**7 WCC Defenders of the Year
**3 Honda Award Winners
**2 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Winners
**2 College Cup Defensive MVPs
**1 College Cup Offensive MVP
**1 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year
**1 National Championship
FRESHMAN REPEAT: For the second year in a row the Broncos will have the defending WCC Freshman of the Year on their team. Julie Johnston won the award in 2010, starting 16 games and totaling 1,519 minutes. She led the team with five assists and added two goals to total nine points. Allie Vernon was named co-Freshman of the Year in 2009 as she helped the Broncos advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
CHASTAIN HONORED: Santa Clara honored Bronco great, World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Brandi Chastain at halftime of its game against No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 18. Chastain had her No. 21 jersey retired during a halftime ceremony that featured Santa Clara athletic director Dan Coonan.
"Brandi is not only a world-class athlete, but an international superstar, as well as a tireless advocate for women and young girls," said Coonan. "Through it all, she has never forgotten or neglected her role within the Santa Clara family, which she represents so flawlessly in all she does. She epitomizes what it means to be a Bronco. We are thrilled to make her our first retired jersey honoree for women's soccer"
"What a great tribute for Brandi. I am glad we had a big crowd of students to see her honored Sunday night," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith, also married to Chastain. "She is not only one of the greatest women's soccer players at Santa Clara and one of the greatest Santa Clara athletes, she is also one of the greatest women's soccer players to play not only in this country but also around the world. I was really happy we honored her. She has been honored on so many levels and it's nice to have her jersey be the one that was officially retired first as part of the Bronco women's soccer program."
Chastain played for Santa Clara in 1989 and 1990 and both years led the Broncos the NCAA College Cup Final Four. In her two years in a Bronco uniform she scored 33 goals and had six assists for a total of 72 points. As an All-American in 1990 her 22 goals and 50 points are the third and fourth most in a season for a Santa Clara player, respectively.
She was also part of the Bay Area's first women's professional team to win a championship when she was with the San Jose CyberRays in 2001. She won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles, the most memorable coming when she scored the deciding penalty shot in 1999 to beat China in the championship game of the first Women's World Cup.
HENNINGER UP FOR MAJOR AWARDS: Preparing for what will be a stellar season, senior goalkeeper Bianca Henninger has been named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List as well as nominated for the Lowe's Senior Class Award.
Henninger has a 3.4 GPA as an accounting major and was named to the 2010 CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Second Team. Henninger has also been selected to the WCC All-Academic Team twice and the WCC Commissioner's List three times. She has also worked extensively with BAWSI whose goal is to get elementary school girls outside and moving. She was part of the BAWSI Sportspalooza in Spring 2011.
On the field Henninger was named the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2010 and was a 2010 All-America selection. In addition to being All-WCC in 2010 she was named to the preseason All-WCC team in 2011. In 2010 she collected eight shutouts with a 0.63 GAA and led the WCC with 90 saves and a .865 save percentage.
SISTER SISTER: The 2011 Broncos feature a set of sisters in sophomore midfielder Ellie Rice and freshman forward Brooke Rice. The Rice sisters grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyo. and both played club soccer for the Utah Avalanche. They have a third sister, Nicole, who currently plays soccer at the University of Wyoming.
"It's like having your best friend around all the time," said Brooke on what it's like to be on the same team as her sister. "There is someone on the field who can criticize you and knows your game so well that they can help you all the time."
BRONCOS WELCOME TOP FIVE RECRUITING CLASS: The Santa Clara women's soccer recruiting class of 2015 was recognized as the fourth-best nationally, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. By welcoming in nine freshmen the returning players and coaches know that it will take a total team effort to make the new players feel at home. "We're excited about the challenge of coming together as a new team," said Smith. "That's what preseason is about: working together and coming together. 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." The class features both attacking players who will help with the loss of three starting forwards and players who can excel at several different positions.
2011 WCC PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Portland - 61 (6)
2. Santa Clara - 53 (2)
2. BYU - 53 (1)
4. San Diego - 47
5. LMU - 33
6. Pepperdine - 31
7. Saint Mary's - 20
8. Gonzaga - 13
8. San Francisco - 13
(First place votes - rankings by NSCAA)
2011 WCC PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE
Cloee Colohan, Portland
Danielle Foxhoven, Portland
Natalie Garcia, San Diego
Bianca Henninger, Santa Clara
Kendall Johnson, Portland
Julie Johnston, Santa Clara
Olivia Klei, Santa Clara
Jordan Marada, Saint Mary's
Tawni Martino, LMU
Stephanie Ochs, San Diego
Michelle Pao, Pepperdine
Carlee Payne, BYU