Oct. 2, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - A terrific performance by Santa Clara went unrewarded as No. 21 Portland converted a penalty kick with 14 minutes left to escape Buck Shaw Stadium with a 1-0 victory Friday night.
Santa Clara (2-5-2) dominated the first half and controlled the tempo throughout but left the field scoreless for the second-straight match - shutout for the fourth time in the team's last seven outings.
The visiting Pilots were granted the penalty kick late in the second half when a collision in front of the SCU net resulted in Mykell Bates and Ryan Luke lying face-up on Buck Shaw's newly installed grass surface. Portland's All-America candidate Collen Warner calmly drove in the PK - proving to be the decider in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Portland (6-1-1) runs its unbeaten streak to seven. The Pilots entered the week ranked 21st in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 poll.
Santa Clara put relentless pressure on the Pilots throughout the first half. Three consecutive corner kicks around the 30th minute nearly resulted in an SCU goal when a set piece allowed Erik Hurtado a header from close range, only to be denied by UP's All-WCC keeper Austin Guerrero.
Moments before the intermission Ryan Brown's interior cross centered-up a trailing Murphy Campbell who blasted a shot over the cross bar. SCU totaled five corners and five shots in the first 45 minutes.
Every reserve remained standing in front of the Broncos' bench in the second half as the go-ahead goal seemed imminent at any moment.
However, the game-changer happened on the other end in the 76th minute.
"That's the game of soccer sometimes," said Santa Clara Head Coach Cameron Rast. "Play well but in a moment's notice late in a game give up an opportunity that could cost you the match. We had our moments to make it ours and they got a moment that made it theirs."
Santa Clara pushed another defender forward in the final stages, coming up with a number of good looks - but no goals.
"We're definitely disappointed not to get a result because we played well enough to get it," said Rast.
The Broncos will try to rebound when they play Gonzaga Sunday. The Zags (3-3-2) also dropped its conference opener Friday, a 2-0 loss at St. Mary's. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at SCU's Buck Shaw Stadium.