Oct. 11, 2000
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -The Santa Clara men's soccer team will complete its most difficult four-game stretch of the season this weekend with matches at fourth-ranked Stanford on Thursday and second-ranked Portland on Sunday.
Thursday's match at Stanford is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at New Maloney Field on the Palo Alto campus. Sunday's match at Portland is scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. kickoff at Merlo Field. In an online poll taken last summer by College Soccer Online, the Portland-SCU match was voted as the most anticipated showdown of the season. Of those responding, 28 percent indicated the Pilots-Broncos matchup as the game they'd most like to see.
The Broncos are 5-5-0 on the season and, after Sunday's match at Portland, will have faced four teams ranked among the top seven in the nation in its last five matches. The Broncos have four shutouts in its five wins this year but been held scoreless in their last three matches. SCU is 0-1 in West Coast Conference matches this season with a loss at Gonzaga last week.
"We are really excited to play these next two games," said Bronco head coach Mitch Murray, who entered the season as one of the top-10 winningest active coaches in the country. "Games against the great teams are what it is all about. We've dropped a couple of games where we made a crucial mistake at key times in the game. But, we've competed well especially against some of the better teams on our schedule. Both Stanford and Portland are going to be up to play us this weekend. They are both looking for redemption after the way things went in our games last season
"We have a really tough road schedule, particularly in the month of October. We only play one match at home in the entire month. That makes it extra difficult, especially since almost all of our toughest games are on the road this year and since we have battled so many injuries. This has really been sort of a patchwork season for us with the injuries and so many new faces."
Stanford is 9-1-1 on the season and ranked fourth in most of the major national polls. The Cardinal is coming off an emotional 1-0 victory over previously top-ranked UCLA on Sunday. The series between Stanford and Santa Clara is tied at 16-16-5 overall, which includes last season's thrilling 2-2 tie in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Stanford. Santa Clara advanced in the tournament after four overtimes and a 6-5 edge in penalty kicks and went on to face Indiana in the NCAA championship game.
Portland is 8-1-2 on the season and ranked second in the NCAA media poll. The Pilots are led by two-time, and current, WCC Player of the Week Nate Jaqua. A freshman, Jaqua has 20 points and seven goals on the season, while the Pilots have recorded three-straight shutouts. The Santa Clara match will be Portland's first WCC match of the season.
Following the Portland match, the Broncos return home to face the College of Notre Dame on Thursday, October 19 at Buck Shaw Stadium. Tickets are available by phone through the Santa Clara Athletic Ticket Office at 408/554-4660 or online at www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate one-hour prior to kickoff.