SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Coming off a nine-goal outburst and entering the final home weekend of the regular season, No. 9 Santa Clara women's soccer broke into the top-10 and hosts LMU on Fri., Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. and Pepperdine Sun., Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. for Senior Day. Last week the Broncos cruised to a 9-0 win over San Francisco to remain the only unbeaten team in the West Coast Conference and put themselves in a position where they control their own destiny for winning the conference championship. Santa Clara is now 11-3-1 overall and 5-0-0 in conference action and is riding a seven game winning streak.
"It's nice to be in a position where you control your own destiny and don't have to rely on someone else to do you a favor," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "What comes with that is the responsibility of taking care of your business. To do that, you focus on maximizing what you can get out of each day. One of the things you have to guard against is looking ahead. We're focused on improvements we want to make in training each day. If we stay in the moment we could put ourselves in a nice position."
Santa Clara will continue to work in training to gain consistency in areas where it has not excelled all the time.
"Any time you get to the end of the season, you're just trying to hit on all cylinders and we were able to do that last week," said Smith. "We'll continue to fine-tune different parts of our game. We will still focus on shots on goal because we haven't been consistent enough in that area. We also want to improve our efficiency in attacking dead balls, particularly corner kicks. The final thing we will look at is end of match tactics. We haven't trailed by a goal late in a game since Cal but that was several games ago. We need some rehearsal on how to secure a win if we're up a goal and how to come back if we're down a goal."
Despite continuing to work on getting shots on goal, Smith was very pleased with the team's performance against San Francisco.
"At one point we had nine goals, 18 shots and 14 shots on goal," said Smith. "That was a case of the players executing what we've been stressing. We've been going over how to get your shots on goal which is a lot of fundamentals, but isn't easy. Our players showed very good discipline in the area of shots on goal and we were ecstatic with how we did. If our players continue to do that, we're going to have more multiple goal games going forward."
Santa Clara leads the WCC in in goals scored with 39, eight more than the second place team, and is third with 14 goals allowed. The Broncos have outshot opponents 265-164 and 126-83 in shots on goal. The Broncos have dominated the first half by outscoring teams 23-6 while outscoring them 15-7 in the second half.
Julie Johnston leads the team with 10 goals, six assists and 26 points. Johnston is first in the conference in assists and points and second in goals. Morgan Marlborough and Sofia Huerta have each scored eight goals and added four assists. Their eight goals puts them in a tie for third in the WCC. Sarah Jackson and freshman Jordan Jesolva each have found the net three times while Jackson has added three assists and Jesolva has one. Julie Vass is yet to score but has three assists. Andi Tostanoski has a 0.92 GAA, third in the WCC, and a .840 save percentage, which is second in conference. Tostanoski has made 68 saves and picked up five shutouts.
With it being senior weekend, Smith knows how instrumental this big class of seniors has been to the success of this team.
"In college sports senior leadership plays a key role in how the team does," said Smith. "We have nine terrific seniors this year that are passionate about our program, that are mature, that are disciplined and that put the team first. They have had a great impact on our team, particularly at the end of the season. They've been through the end of the season and know how to handle it. That maturity has made a big difference this season and will continue to do so."
Santa Clara is 15-4-1 all-time vs. LMU. Last year Santa Clara won 1-0 vs. LMU at Buck Shaw behind a goal from Julie Johnston. Lexie Rubattino made her first career start and seven saves while collecting the shutout.
Santa Clara is 12-7-0 all-time vs. Pepperdine. Last season Pepperdine took down the Broncos 2-1 in Malibu on a goal in the 82nd minute. The last time the Waves visited Buck Shaw was in 2011 when they were ranked No. 3 in the country. Bridgett Miller scored the lone goal in a 1-0 Santa Clara win that propelled the Broncos top No. 7 in the country.
LMU enters the week with a 3-14-0 overall record and a 0-6-0 mark in conference. The Lions are 0-8-0 away from home and are coming off losses at home vs. Saint Mary's and Pacific. After dropping the season-opener 3-1 at Cal Poly, LMU won three straight games. Since Sept. 1, however, the team is on a 13-game losing streak.
The Lions have been outscored 36-9 and outshot 240-199. They have been shutout nine times on the season. LMU has been outscored 20-2 in the first half and 16-6 in the second half.
Jocelyn Blankenship leads the team with three goals, three assists, and nine points. Tawni Martino also has three goals and one assist. Three other Lions have one goal each and four others have one assist each. Brittany Jagger has seen the most time in net and has allowed 33 goals for a 2.24 GAA. Jagger has made 57 saves for a .633 save percentage and has two shutouts.
Pepperdine enters the week with a 9-5-2 overall record and a 4-2-0 mark in conference action. The Waves have topped two ranked teams, No. 19 Texas A&M 3-1 and No. 23 USC 1-0 in overtime. Last week Pepperdine topped Pacific and Saint Mary's at home.
The Waves have outscored opponents 23-18 and outshot teams 291-223 and in shots on goal 139-117. They have been outscored 8-7 in the first half but have bounced back to win the second half 15-10.
Lynn Williams leads the conference with 11 goals and has added three assists for 25 points. Ally Holtz is second on the team in goals and assists with five and four, respectively. Kristen Rodriguez has three goals and three assists while Rylee Baisden has two goals and two assists. Four other Waves players have two assists each and two others have one goal apiece. Hannah Seabert has allowed 18 goals for a 1.09 GAA. She has a conference-high 99 saves and a .846 save percentage while picking up four shutouts.