SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In the final weekend of the season and the West Coast Conference title within reach, No. 18 Santa Clara women's soccer will host Portland on Thur., Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. on Senior Night. They will then travel to Saint Mary's to wrap-up the regular season on Sun., Nov. 3 at 12 p.m.
The Broncos have four graduating seniors on the roster in 2012. Captains Lauren Matheson, Olivia Klei and Meleana Shim with play their last regular season home game on Thursday along with goalkeeper Lexie Rubattino. After missing the NCAA tournament in 2008, this class of Broncos has made three consecutive tournaments and are nearly a lock to return this year.
"I'm really thankful for this senior class," said Smith. "I'm thankful they chose to come to Santa Clara University and thankful they put us back on track with going to the NCAA tournament every year. Congratulations to that class for bringing our program to the NCAA tournament each of their four years. Three of our four seniors are team captains so not only are they wonderful players but they're also outstanding leaders. All four have made major contributions to our program over their four years, including this year. Each student-athlete that plays college athletics will remember all four years but probably will remember their senior year the most and we have a good chance to make a deep run in their final season."
After scoring three goals in each of her first three seasons on the Mission campus, team-captain Matheson set a new career high with her fourth goal of the season, the second of two on the day, on September 27 vs. Fresno State, including the winner in overtime. She is currently third on the team with her four goals and has added two assists. Her 10 points is also third on the team.
In her time on the Mission campus, Matheson has appeared in 82 games while scoring 13 goals and adding 11 assists. She was named to the 2009 WCC All-Freshman Team and was All-WCC honorable mention as a sophomore.
"Lauren has been a forward and attacking midfield player for us," said Smith. "In her senior year she has found a way to contribute with some key goals and assists. She's embracing a new role we call the underneath forward. We try to play into Lauren in front of back lines and she's embraced that role and has really made a difference for us this year.
Shim, a four-year starter and 2012 captain, has found the back of the net twice this year and has added one assist. Her biggest goal so far in 2012 was vs. San Diego on October 28 when she scored in the 88th minute to give Santa Clara a 3-2 win.
In her Bronco career she has appeared in 78 games with nine goals scored and 10 assists while being named All-WCC honorable mention as a sophomore in 2010 and 2011 All-WCC Second Team as a junior in 2011 as well as being named to the 2012 Preseason All-WCC team.
"Meleana is one of the most skillful players we've ever had in our program," said Smith. "She is one of players that can focus on the field because she doesn't have to focus on the ball because of her skills. She's as close to Aly Wagner as we've had in our program in the sense that she's so skillful that it allows her eyes and mind to not be focused on the ball and that gives her some advantages."
Klei, a team captain in 2012, has scored a career-high three goals in 2012 to go along with two assists while starting 16 games. On September 16 vs. No. 25 San Diego State, Klei scored in the 89th minute to tie the game and send it into overtime.
A Second-Team All-WCC selection as a sophomore and a Preseason All-WCC selection as a junior, she has played in 65 games and scored five goals to go with 11 assists in her time at Santa Clara.
"Olivia is a four-year starter for us and a wonderful left-sided player for us," said Smith. "She has a wonderful ability to defend well and be an attacking threat from the left side. She is a veteran of our U-17 World Cup team four years ago and continued to have an impact in every game she played for us."
Rubattino has started two games this season while allowing just a 0.80 GAA and picking up 12 saves, good for a .857 save percentage. She picked up her first career shutout on October 12 vs. LMU in a 1-0 Santa Clara win.
As a Bronco Rubattino has made 17 saves.
"Lexie has been terrific for us and filled in for us in a wonderful way a number of times," said Smith. "It's often times very difficult to be the backup goalkeeper. To come to training everyday, to work hard everyday and always be ready when the backup doesn't get to play as often. It's a very difficult situation to manage when you don't know if you'll play and Lexie works hard everyday and keeps herself ready. When she does get into the game she does a great job for us."