SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University men's soccer team closed out its five-game, season-opening homestand with a 2-0 victory over Cleveland State Sunday at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Senior classmates Brandon Zimmerman (pictured) and Mykell Bates connected on the game's first goal, 14 minutes into the second half, and junior forward Erik Hurtado sealed the win with an unassisted effort with two minutes left.
Santa Clara (3-1-1) outscored their weekend opponents (Nebraska-Omaha and Cleveland State) by a margin of 6-0. The Broncos will now prep for a 'Bay Area Classic' meeting with No. 22 California Friday afternoon in Berkeley.
Cleveland State (2-2) earns a split on its two-game California road trip. The Vikings beat San Jose State 2-0 Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
"It was not pretty today, we really had to grind it out," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "At times we made things more difficult than we had to. Yeah, there are things we can improve and get better at. But I felt like we were able to grind one out, hanging on late when we were under a lot of pressure."
The Broncos generated nine corner kicks on the day, nearly scoring off one in the first half when Hurtado headed a ball off the crossbar, then Carlos Montes just missing a chance to net the rebound.
The breakthrough goal for the Broncos came off a corner in the second half, with Zimmerman finding Bates, who redirected the offering into the back of the net. The goal was the second of the year for Bates and for Zimmerman it marked his first assist of the year and the 14th for his Bronco career.
"So many of my assists come off corner kicks," said Zimmerman, who has been named an All-WCC player in each of his three seasons at SCU. "The guys I play with make it real easy on me. (Bates) is so good in the air, if I even put it close to the right spot he is going to score. So that helps. Another guy that is easy to pass to is Hurtado. He is one of the fastest guys I have ever played with."
With the Broncos clinging to a 1-0 lead with 20 minutes left, senior goalkeeper Kevin Klasila leaped high to his left to save a would-be goal off the foot of Jordan Hart. Klasila's stop was one of five saves on the day for him.
Hurtado made sure SCU would win by netting his team-leading third goal of the season in the closing moments, doing it unassisted, dribbling around a pair defenders on a counterattack and beating the CSU keeper on the breakaway.
"We knew we would be tested during this homestand," said Rast. "I think overall the five games have been good for us. It has been consistent and comfortable - now we need to get uncomfortable. Now we need to be on the road and get after some good opponents like Cal and San Jose State. The next two weeks are going to set us up, mindset wise, for conference."
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