July 30, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University men's soccer team was picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference during the 2002 season in a poll of the league's seven head coaches.
Despite winning the school's seventh WCC title last season, the Broncos were picked to finish second behind the University of San Diego, who also entered the 2001 season as the league favorite.
San Diego garnered four first place votes from the coaches, followed by Santa Clara's two and Loyola Marymount's one. Rounding out the preseason coaches' poll is Portland, followed by Gonzaga, San Francisco and Saint Mary's.
Santa Clara has qualified for the NCAA Tournament six of the last seven years, including trips to the College Cup in 1998 and 1999. The job of getting them back to the postseason now falls on the Broncos' new head coach, Cameron Rast.
Rast, a two-time All-American, donned a Santa Clara uniform from 1988-1991 helping the Broncos capture their only national title in 1989. Rast previously was the Broncos assistant coach for eight years and served as the team's associate head coach last year.
The first-year coach will rely heavily on seniors Scott McLain and Jamil Walker. McLain started all 20 of the games in which he appeared last season, scoring once and adding one assist. Walker finished second on the team in points during his junior season, scoring three times and assisting on two others. McLain's leadership and Walker's offensive firepower will be two of the keys for Santa Clara.
Defensively, which is where the Santa Clara trademark style of play has rested for over a decade, will be shored up by sophomores Ryan Cochrane and Steve Cronin. Cochrane was a Soccer America Freshman All-American in 2001, earning second team All-WCC honors as well for his play in the back. Cronin earned honorable mention All-WCC honors for his play between the pipes and on the field. As a freshman he recorded a team-leading 0.79 goals-against average in net, as well as scoring once and assisting on two others while playing in the field.
Santa Clara will begin its 2002 season September 2nd against Notre Dame De Namur University at 7:30 p.m. in Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos' first game of its WCC title defense will come on October 13th at the University of Portland.
WCC Men's Soccer 2002 Preseason Poll
1. San Diego - 34 (4)
2. Santa Clara - 29 (2)
3. Loyola Marymount - 25 (1)
4. Portland - 23
5. Gonzaga - 19
6. San Francisco - 9
7. Saint Mary's - 8
(First place votes)