Sept. 13, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - The sixth-ranked Santa Clara University men's soccer team heads to SoCal this weekend for a difficult two-game swing as they attempt to push their unbeaten streak to seven games. On Friday, Sept. 15, the Broncos take on their long-time rival UCLA at 8:00 p.m. PT at Drake Stadium, before heading out to Northridge to play the Matadors of Cal State Northridge on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field. Live coverage of the matches will be available right here on SantaClaraBroncos.com.
"These will be two difficult games for us," said Broncos head coach Cameron Rast. "UCLA is a lot like us with a lot of young, talented players combined with some seasoned veterans. Northridge has put together a good record over the past couple of years and we have to respect what they have done. I am really looking forward to getting down there for the two games."
Last season, the Broncos pulled out a dramatic 3-2 win over the Bruins with a goal by Keith DeVey in the waning minutes of the match. Peter Lowry got the Broncos off to a 2-0 lead in the first half and SCU appeared ready to knock off the nation's second-ranked team. However, the Bruins stormed back to tie the game with two goals in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. DeVey then provided the game-winner with a sharp-angled shot to give Santa Clara the win.
Sophomore Maxwell Griffin, who scored in last season's match, is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week after scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory over New Mexico last week.
"Last year, we had a very exciting game down there," said Rast. "It should be another great match-up. The game will definitely test us and let us know how far we have come so far this year."
In the second game of the weekend, the Broncos will play just their second-ever game at Cal State Northridge in a battle of 2005 NCAA Tournament teams. The two teams have not faced each other since 1999 with the Broncos leading the all-time series 3-2-0. The Matadors are just 1-2-1 so far in 2006, but they have played a schedule that includes top-25 opponents, UCLA, West Virginia and New Mexico.
"We really have to respect what Northridge has done over the past few years," said Rast. "They reached the third round of the NCAA's last year and pushed New Mexico, so we know they are a quality side. Their schedule so far has been tough and that will prepare them for the game against us."
This season the Matadors have been led by senior Ryan Rossi, who has scored two goals in 2006 after scoring seven last season. Goalkeeper Kevin Guppy has been stingy as well, making 17 saves and posting a .810 saves percentage through four games.
Despite the two quality opponents, the Broncos appear ready for the trip as they have been getting contributions from all over their roster. In the past two matches, the team has scored four goals in each game with seven different players scoring goals. Freshman Amaechi Igwe has scored in consecutive games and his classmate Jeff Cosgriff already has three goals on the season.
In the back, Matt Marquess and Jamil Roberts marshal a defense that has posted two shutouts and allowed only three goals in five games. Only an 88th minute goal by St. Louis prevented a shutout last week.
"Right now, I am happy with where we are as a team," said Rast. "Getting contributions from everyone on the roster makes us a much better and more complete team. I expect the team to be ready to play this weekend."