Broncos Athletics

Best by The Bay?

Oct. 15, 2005

By Jon Wilner
San Jose Mercury News

Combine bad endings for the Giants and A's with bad starts for the 49ers and Raiders and bad losses for San Jose State and Stanford football, and there hasn't been much to cheer about on the South Bay sports scene.

But all is well at Santa Clara, where the Broncos dynamo is flattening its competition.

Santa Clara is 14th in Sports Illustrated On Campus' most recent ranking of Division I athletic departments, based on performance in all sports to this point in the academic year. To be fair, we should mention that Stanford is No. 3 and Cal No. 5, but Santa Clara is the only non-football school in the top 20.

``We knew we had a pretty good chance for success in several of our sports this fall, but it has just been phenomenal how well our teams have performed,'' SCU Athletic Director Dan Coonan said. ``I wish I could say we all expected this to happen, but to have the kind of success we've had across the board has been a pleasant surprise.''

A few highlights:

  • Santa Clara has a 9-0 lead in its annual Rivalry Series with San Jose State after sweeping the Spartans in women's volleyball and men's and women's soccer a few weeks ago.

  • Four of the Broncos' six in-season teams are ranked in the top 20 nationally: women's soccer (fifth), men's soccer (ninth), women's volleyball (14th) and men's water polo (18th). Through Thursday, those teams had a combined record of 47-12-1.

  • Santa Clara teams have defeated their counterparts from Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Notre Dame, Arizona, Arizona State and Virginia Tech this fall.

  • Last month, women's soccer coach Jerry Smith picked up his 300th victory. Smith's record at SCU isn't half bad: 306-75-25.

  • Men's golf, under first-year coach Rob Miller, won its first tournament outside the South Bay in six years when it took the Purple and Red Invitational in Layton, Utah, two weeks ago.