Erik Hurtado's Hat Trick Allows SCU Eighth Win in Ten Games
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Erik Hurtado celebrated Senior Day at Buck Shaw Stadium by scoring two exceptional goals in the first half, then capped off the afternoon by converting a penalty kick in the closing moments, leading Santa Clara University to a 3-1 victory over Gonzaga University in West Coast Conference men's soccer action.
Hurtado – a product of Beaverton, Oregon's Westview High School and a preseason All-America pick in 2012 – has earned the distinction of being one of the best offensive players to ever wear a Bronco uniform.
His unassisted effort in the 14th-minute moved him into No. 3 all-time at SCU in goals scored and his career total of 32 is the most by any Bronco player since 1979 when Scott Douglas finished his career with 40.
"It was Senior Day today so we had to go out and work hard, and as always on Senior Day you want to get the win," Hurtado said. "Some of the parents have to travel so far to come and visit. That loss against Portland was upsetting, so we needed this game to reset ourselves and get us going for the second half of the (WCC) season."
Upset indeed may be the right word to describe how Santa Clara (9-6-0; 6-2-0 WCC) felt after its 2-1 double-overtime loss to the University of Portland Friday night. The Pilots scored with :25 seconds remaining to put the Broncos one game behind the University of San Diego in the WCC standings.
Hurtado was set up nicely for goal number one Sunday against the Zags – just seven minutes after the opening whistle – when freshman teammate Ryan Masch laid off a pass to Hurtado inside the box. SCU never trailed and was in command throughout. When Hurtado blasted in goal number two, he went over and hugged his mother, Nicole.
"It meant a lot to have her here," Hurtado said. "I would not be here today if it wasn't for my parents, my mom, my dad who could not make it, my brother and sister, have all been so supportive. I was just happy to get a hat trick for her. When I was younger I used to get a lot of hat tricks, obviously not at the DI level. She always tells me every game, even though it's not likely, to get a hat trick; that she wants a hat trick."
Gonzaga (4-11-0; 0-8-0 WCC) pulled within 2-1 by halftime on an unassisted breakaway goal from Zach Hamer. The Zags played the Broncos tough, fighting and threatening up until the 2-minute mark when they were whistled for a foul in the box, allowing Hurtado the penalty kick and the chance to put the game away.
"I was just talking with Danny Maeda, one of the seniors, about our official (recruiting) visit when we were in high school," Hurtado said. "We watched (SCU) play and now years later its our Senior Day. It just goes by so fast."
Hurtado's hat trick Sunday was the first of his outstanding collegiate career. One of the NCAA's top offensive players this season, Hurtado entered the week ranked among the nation's top 10 in goals, points, goals per game and points per game. His 14 goals this season puts him at No. 4 all-time in the program's single-season history.
SCU has now won 8 of 10 games overall and its record at home against Gonzaga improves to 11-2-2 all-time. On Halloween night, Wednesday, October 31, the Broncos will host St. Mary's College in the team's 2012 home finale.