September 10, 2010

Santa Clara Men’s Soccer Edged 1-0 by Valpo

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Santa Clara University dropped a 1-0 decision to an upstart Valparaiso University squad Friday in the first game of the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee. Valparaiso has won its first three matches of the year and is off to its best start in school history.

Santa Clara (1-2-0) is in the midst of a season-opening road swing, playing four straight away from home. The Broncos split a pair of matches at the UC Irvine Collegiate Classic last weekend, beating Loyola-Chicago 1-0 after losing to Wisconsin 2-1.

On Friday, it was Valpo's 6-foot 6-inch forward Stefan Antonijevic's first-half goal which put SCU behind 17-minutes in. The header by Antonijevic, who out-leaped the Broncos' defense, was set up by Adrian Ortiz's free kick just outside the box.  

"We got off to a slow start," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "(Valparaiso) put us under a lot of pressure in the first half and generated enough chances."

Erik Hurtado responded for Santa Clara. The all-league sophomore forward returned from an early-season injury to provide a spark for SCU up front. Hurtado broke down the Valpo defense a number of times but a strong wind slowed his shots from distance and the Broncos were never able to break through with a tying goal.

Hurtado us part of a young SCU team that started just one senior, Ricky Character.

Valparaiso (3-0) set a program record with 10 wins in 2009 and is off to its best-ever start thus far in 2010. The head coaches of the Horizon League selected Valpo to finish in a tie for third in the preseason poll.  Only Butler and Green Bay, both NCAA Tournament squads a year ago, were picked to finish ahead of the Crusaders.
 
"Valpo is good team, give them a lot of credit," added Rast. "They're not a team that will beat themselves. You have to be mature, competitve and tough to win out here in the Midwest."

Santa Clara will play tournament host Marquette Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (PT). Live stats will be available via Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com).