SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Hitting the road for the first time in a month and a half, No. 14 Santa Clara women's soccer will play its first road conference games of 2013. The Broncos will face Saint Mary's on Fri., Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. before heading to Pacific for a 1 p.m. game on Oct. 20. It will be the first meeting between the teams since the Tigers joined the West Coast Conference. Last week Santa Clara got off to a 2-0-0 start in WCC action with a 1-0 win over San Diego and a thrilling 2-1 win over BYU.
"Any time you play on the road you face additional challenges and adversity," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "This will be an opportunity for our team to embrace those challenges. You have to be able to win away from home to accomplish the kinds of goals we have in our program. We've done that this year and look forward to another opportunity to do that. I think our team will be up for the challenge and we can go in with some confidence that we can play well."
Despite playing well over the weekend, the Broncos know there are areas they can work on if they want to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
"The keys for us going forward will be the same as they have been," said Smith. "We would like to get our shots on goal percentage above 50%. Another key will be keeping the ball because we are more comfortable when we have possession and create sustained attacks. We're doing a pretty good job of that but we can still grow in that area. As has been the case all season, we need to increase our quality and efficiency on attacking dead balls. This weekend presents a wonderful opportunity to work on that. I imagine with a team that defends you first, you're going to get a lot of opportunities on corner kicks and free kicks. Those three areas will be important for us this weekend and going forward into the NCAA Tournament."
Santa Clara is outscoring its opponents 24-14 while outshooting them 211-138 and 96-70 in shots on goal. The Broncos are dominating in the first half, outscoring opponents 13-6 as well as winning the second half 10-7.
Julie Johnston leads Santa Clara with seven goals and 17 points while adding three assists. Morgan Marlborough and Sofia Huerta are tied for the second on the team with five goals and have three and two assists, respectively. Freshman Jordan Jesolva has added two goals while five other Broncos have scored one goal each. Julie Vass is tied for the team lead with three assists and three other Santa Clara players have one assist apiece. Andi Tostanoski has a 1.11 GAA while making 56 saves. She has a .812 save percentage and has picked up four shutouts.
"One of the keys in the Saint Mary's game will be the extra effort in front of goal," said Smith. "They are a very tough defending team, similar to San Diego. You have to be physical, tough and determined in front of goal and in all likelihood we won't be scoring any easy goals there. Often times teams either attack first and defend second or vice versa. Both teams this weekend defend first and in our sport that can make life very difficult. We'll need to get our shots on goal in a very congested and crowded penalty box."
Santa Clara is 29-3-4 all-time vs. Saint Mary's. Last season in Moraga, the Broncos won 2-0 behind one goal each from Huerta and Johnston.
Saint Mary's enters the week with a 5-8-0 record and a 1-1-0 mark in conference action. The Gaels have been outscored 21-12 and outshot 191-146. They are 0-5-0 against ranked teams, falling to No. 11 San Diego State, No. 25 Denver, No. 25 Marquette, No. 2 Stanford 5-0 and No. 12 Cal 4-2. Last week in the opening week of conference play, Saint Mary's topped San Francisco 1-0 at home and lost in overtime 1-0 to Pacific.
Briana Campos leads the Gaels with four goals and nine points. Caroline Beauline and Melissa Madrid are tied for second on the team with two goals each. Vicki Shimkus leads the team with three assists and has found the back of the net once. Kaeli Schmidt has a 1.68 GAA in net while making 58 saves for a .734 save percentage. Schmidt has picked up three shouts on the year.
"The road game at Pacific will be very new for us," said Smith. "It will be a new environment for us and will present another challenge. Playing in a new place can cause some problems like when we went to Fresno State where we had never played before. We were able to come away with a victory in Fresno so that should give us some confidence."
The Broncos are 7-0-0 all-time vs. Pacific with the last meeting coming in 2010 when Santa Clara won 2-1. The last meeting in Stockton came in 1981 when the Broncos and Tigers were members of the CCWSC and Santa Clara won 6-1. In 1982 the teams met in Santa Clara and the Broncos won 10-1. The 10 goals scored are tied for the most ever in a game by the Broncos. In 1998 Jacqui Little registered five points in a NCAA Tournament game vs. Pacific, which is tied for the most points in a single tournament game in Santa Clara history.
Pacific sits at 2-8-2 overall and 1-1-0 in WCC action. The Tiger's wins have come vs. New Mexico State and Last weekend at Saint Mary's in overtime. Last week they also fell to Portland 1-0 at home. Pacific has been outscored 21-9 despite outshooting opponents 176-142 and 71-69 in shots on goal.
Maricela Padilla leads the Tigers with four goals scored and has one assist for nine points. Alex Hussar and Brittni Beeman are tied for second on the team with two goals each while Mirella Mattos is the only other Tiger to score. Hussar leads the team with three assists while Beeman and Zarette Munoz-Aquilar are tied for second with two assists each. Tashia Long has a 1.47 GAA while picking up 43 saves. She has a .717 save percentage and one shutout.