Santa Clara is set to play up at UC Davis on Sat., May 3 as the Bronco men's soccer spring work-outs continue. Last weekend the Broncos defeated Cal Poly and also hosted their annual Alumni game. Bronco head coach Cam Rast (CR) sat down with SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) to talk about what he liked about the team in the Cal Poly match, the action-packed Alumni Game and BBQ and what conversations sound like between the alumni and the current Bronco team.
SCU: Looking forward for a minute, you travel up and play UC Davis on Saturday. What are you looking for from your team in this match?
CR: UC Davis has had a good spring. They are pretty athletic. It will be good for us to get on the road a little bit and test ourselves traveling. We look forward to another competition, which will help us solve some more problems and have another chance to perform at a high level on the road.
SCU: Santa Clara played well against Cal Poly on April 26. What was the difference between your first spring game, vs. the Earthquakes PDL, and your second game, vs. Cal Poly?
CR: The first match we played against a group of older players that are aspiring to be in the professional ranks (Earthquakes PDL). They were very talented, very experienced. Cal Poly is a collegiate team like us. We find the collegiate game is a little more high-paced and a little more athletic in the sense of how hard the teams play throughout the match. They presented different challenges for us - some that we responded well to and some that we didn't. We had to adjust some things as the game went on.
Dylan Autran scored on two set pieces that were extremely well taken. For the second straight game we didn't give up a goal and that is something to build on. We want to make sure that we have that ability when we begin play in the fall. We made plays when we needed to. We have been focused on the mentality of our defending so we don't make mental errors. That has been the biggest positive this spring.
Some of the alumni who were in town for alumni weekend came to our game vs. Cal Poly. We got a little heckling out of them, but nothing too disrespectful. They enjoyed watching our team and it was great to have them connect to the program by watching us play in person.
SCU: Sunday you played the Alumni Game, varsity vs. alums, and that is always a lot of fun. You had the largest group you have had come in for alumni weekend right? How much fun was the game?
CR: We had a great time! The largest group to come back was the team that went to the College Cup in 2003. It was a really great group showing by that team. We had Jason Cunliffe. Ryan Cochrane, Kellen Gilmore, Matt Upton, Ryan Purtell and Zach Knight, who was a ring leader of that group. Ryan Wolf came back. Devin Skrade and his dad from Wisconsin. It was a great group of us.
All the alums wanted to see where they stacked up against the current team on the field. It made for a really fun weekend and fun day. Most of them stuck around for our golf tournament on Monday and it turned out to be a great day for college soccer.
SCU: You sound so proud of so many successful alums. What is the best part of having the alums come back. Are they still the same, but show you growth and maturity?
CR: They have been forced to grow up because they are all out of college and forced to grow up in the professional ranks. There are guys that have found their little niche and passion for life. They started off entry-level and wanting to just get a job. For so many of them they have aspired to be in managerial roles and overseeing people. A lot of the things we teach here with Santa Clara Soccer they are now doing with their own teams in their office. We always wanted to see them grow and now they want to get the best performance out of their team at their work-place. That is always fun to see. The stories they tell and the things that really impacted their lives – we laugh about it today. It makes for great memories.
SCU: After the alumni game, you hosted a BBQ with about 40 alums and your current team. What a terrific way for the alums to connect with the next generation.
CR: All of our guys are so good with the young ones, the alums, they have done their time here and have done a great job. In some respects they have that glimmer about them, 'I remember when I was in your shoes'. And they can say, 'How is it going? What major are you? What are you looking to do? Is Coach Rast running you too much because he did us, too'. They share a lot in common that link us together. I know our guys will have some great input on the time they spent with the alums.
SCU: Was the alumni game competitive or did they just go through the motions?
CR: Very competitive. What was great for me, watching the alumni game, the older guys were still very competitive and pushing the edges of the envelope of playing hard, organized and playing for each other. Our varsity won the game, which we split into three 30 minute sessions, but it was great to see our players realize that back then they did it the same way. And this group went to a College Cup – something we aspire to do again soon. It helps us realize we have something special. It was a good weekend for all of us.