Men's Soccer to Host Portland Saturday Night
Oct. 21, 2003
This Week: Broncos Continue West Coast Conference Play at Home
Santa Clara men's soccer continues its conference home season this weekend with a matchup against Portland Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Buck Shaw Stadium. The match will be key for both teams as the two are undefeated in league play with only four matches remaining. The winner will be considered a front runner for the league title.
No. 6 Santa Clara vs. Portland
The Broncos and Pilots have met 23 previous times entering Saturday night's matchup with the Broncos holding a slim 10-8-5 all-time series advantage. Last season the Pilots squeaked out a 2-1 overtime victory in Portland on October 13 to open the 2002 WCC season. Prior to that match, the Broncos had posted a 4-1-1 record against Portland in their previous six meetings. This year the Pilots enter the contest with a 7-6-0 overall record and a perfect 2-0-0 mark in WCC action. UP defeated Gonzaga by a 3-2 score in overtime to open league play on the road before winning their home league opener against Saint Mary's by a very lopsided 6-1 score. Alejandro Salazar leads the team with his 15 points, coming on seven goals and one assist. Christopher Sanders trails closely behind with his 14 points that have come on six goals and two assists. Luis Robles has taken all but nine minutes between the pipes for the Pilots, posting a 1.21 goals-against average in his 1195 minutes of action.
All the Comforts of Home
Buck Shaw Stadium has been a safe haven for the Broncos over the past two seasons. Dating back to last year the Broncos currently have nine game unbeaten streak, posting an 8-0-1 record in those nine contests. Santa Clara is 4-0-1 at home this year, with the only tie coming against Stanford. The last time that the Broncos lost at home was on September 26, 2002, when California managed a 2-1 victory over SCU. Since 1988 the Broncos have posted a remarkable 117-25-10 record at "The Shaw." That's a .803 winning percentage over the last 15 years.
Santa Clara midfielder Erik Ustruck is starting to make a habit of scoring game-winning goals in league play. The freshman from Manchester, Mo., scored his second career goal in Saturday night's 2-1 victory over Gonzaga in Buck Shaw Stadium. The goal came in the 64th minute off a pass from Jason Cunliffe. Just one week prior, Ustruck scored his first collegiate goal, coming off a pass from Kelechi Igwe that gave the Broncos a 2-1 victory at San Francisco. His two game-winning goals ties him with Will Weatherly for the lead in that statistical category.
Rast in Elite Company
Second year head coach Cameron Rast became only the second head coach in Santa Clara men's soccer history to win 10 games in his first two years at the helm of the program. He joins his predacessor and mentor Mitch Murray as the only two to have accomplished the feat. Rast is now 20-8-4 overall after going 10-6-1 in his first year while Murrary posted records of 20-1-2 and 10-7-1 in his first two campaigns. Former coaches Dave Chaplik (1972-80), Ralph Perez (1981-85) and Steve Sampson (1986-90) all posted 10 wins in two of their first three seasons, but not posted back-to-back 10-win years to begin their coaching careers on the Mission Campus.
Last Week: Broncos Remain Perfect in WCC Action
Erik Ustruck scored a short-handed second-half goal to lead the eighth-ranked Santa Clara University men's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Gonzaga in West Coast Conference action Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos improve to 10-2-3 overall and 2-0-0 in league play while dropping the Bulldogs to 5-6-1 overall and 0-2-0 in WCC action. Santa Clara scored first in the 12th minute when Will Weatherly dribbled the ball to the top right corner of the box and centered the ball to Igwe. Igwe completed the give-and-go after Weaterly cut behind Igwe to the left and blasted a shot for his fifth goal of the season. Gonzaga tied the game just five minutes later when Scott Yuska fed Scott Bertram, who found Arni Pjeturrson open on the right site. Pjeturrson's shot into the top left corner beat SCU keeper Steve Cronin and knotted the score at one apiece. The first half was physical as 19 fouls and four cards issued in the period, including a red card that was assessed to Santa Clara captain Audren Cashman in the 33rd minute following a midfield tackle. The Broncos were also forced to play without the services of Hermann Award finalist and top defender Ryan Cochrane, who was kicked in the ankle and left the match in the 24th minute. Santa Clara battled through the adversity and scored the go-ahead goal in the 64th minute as Jason Cunliffe sent a ball through the middle from the left side. Ryan Wolfe, who looked to be the primary recipient of the pass, let the ball slip past him on to Ustruck, who was streaking down the right side. His attempt beat Zags' keeper Kris Wright high for his second goal of the season. Santa Clara outshot the Bulldogs 13-6, and Cronin picked up his 10th win of the season while notching two saves on the night. Gonzaga netminder Kris Wright made seven saves in the match, keeping the Zags close.
Weatherly Among League Leaders
Junior Will Weatherly's 11 points not only leads the Broncos, but also ranks him eighth among all West Coast Conference players. He is tied for fourth in the league in goals scored and tied for third in the league in game-winning goals. His 44 shots and 2.93 shots per game lead the league while his 0.33 goals per game average ranks eighth.
Cronin Ranks Second in WCC for Shutouts
Junior Steve Cronin has registered five shutouts thus far in 2003, ranking him second in the WCC in that category. He currently has 10 in his career, leaving him only seven shy of cracking the top-5 for career shutouts at SCU.
In the Rankings
The Santa Clara University men's soccer team rose to No. 6 in the Soccer Times poll, No. 8 in the Soccer America poll and No. 12 in the College Soccer News poll. FourWCC squads appear in the NSCAA/adidas Far West Region Poll this week. Santa Clara moved up to No. 4 while San Diego remained at the No. 7 spot. LMU fell to No. 9 after dropping a pair of overtime contests. Portland reappeared on the poll at No. 10 despite dropping a 2-1 decision at Seattle University last Wednesday. The four WCC teams make up the largest contingent from any single west region conference in this week's poll.
Up Next: Broncos Travel to Saint Mary's
Santa Clara remains in the Bay Area but will travel to Moraga, Calif., on Sunday, November 2 for a 1 p.m. match at Saint Mary's. The Broncos and Gaels will square off for the 31st time in program history with SCU holding an overwhelming 27-2-2 advantge in the all-time series. The last time that the Broncos lost to the Gaels was in Moraga on November 14, 1997, a 2-0 loss that cost SCU the outright conference crown.