Erik Hurtado Scores Twice During Shutout Victory, Passes Bronco Great Peter Lowry on All-Time Goals List
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Carlos Montes set up Erik Hurtado for a pair of goals Friday night at Buck Shaw Stadium as Santa Clara University earned a 2-0 home victory over regionally-ranked NJIT. Hurtado – a preseason All-American and NSCAA all-region player as a junior – upped his four-year goal total to 23, good for seventh all-time in Bronco history.
Santa Clara (3-4-0) also improved its home record to 60-19-22 under four-time WCC Coach of the Year Cameron Rast. The Broncos will possess home-field advantage next weekend when they open up conference play against San Diego (Friday, Sept. 28) and LMU (Sunday, Sept. 30).
"It's finally nice to get a couple wins in a row and gain momentum going into conference – and that's what we need to get a conference championship," said Hurtado, who passed former First Team All-American and MLS professional Peter Lowry '07 on the program's career scoring list. "I don't think that's thinking too far ahead. We expect to be competing for a title; we have a really good team this year."
Located nearly 3,000 miles apart, and having never met, Santa Clara soccer fans may not be familiar with NJIT (5-5-0). However, the Highlanders are ranked No. 9 by the NSCAA in the North Atlantic Region and had won three-straight.
"I think their soccer is quite good," said Rast when asked about his first impressions of NJIT. "They waited and were patient at times with the ball to see if we would unbalance ourselves, or get too extended, then move us around. So we had to be sharp 90-minutes long to make sure we did not give a goal away."
SCU out-shot NJIT 8-3 in the first half and did not settle in defensively despite possessing the lead throughout. Senior goalkeeper Larry Jackson posted his first shutout of the year and seven Bronco reserves came on to play extended minutes.
Giving Santa Clara the immediate lift was Hurtado's first goal - just four minutes into the contest. Montes served up a near-perfect ball on a free kick, and Hurtado used his head to flick it up and over the 6-foot, 6-inch NJIT keeper. Still leading 1-0 midway through the second half, Hurtado and Montes played off one another, resulting in a back-heel pass from Montes which found Hurtado in ideal position to put the Broncos up 2-0.
"We love playing with each other, he's my roommate, so we are with each other all the time," Hurtado said, explaining the on-field chemistry with Montes that has already produced four goals this season. "We are always talking, watching film together, seeing what we can do better in order to score goals. I had found him for a couple goals (earlier in the year) and he said he'd give some back to me."
"You know, Peter Lowry was a tremendous four-year player for us," said Rast, who developed Lowry into the WCC Player of the Year and an All-American by the end of his Bronco career in 2007. "He scored some incredible goals and led our teams to some unbelievably successful seasons. He is definitely one of the best players we've ever had in the program and Erik is amongst that caliber of talent and recognition.
"(Erik) is a player that can score goals and put defenses on their heels. Again tonight, he showed his versatility, jumping out of the sky and flicking a ball over a keeper that is well over six-feet. Factor in the arm-span and you start to understand the kind of player that (Erik) is … he just keeps getting better and better and can't wait to see what he is doing by the end of the season."
Santa Clara, who beat Stanford 2-1 on the road last week, will try to build on its two-match win streak next Friday against San Diego – the only team picked ahead of the Broncos in the WCC's preseason coaches poll. SCU will be going after its second WCC title in three years.