SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Erik Hurtado scored in the first half and senior goalkeeper Naushad Godrej posted a shutout as Santa Clara University beat West Coast Conference rival USF 1-0 under the lights of Buck Shaw Stadium Friday night.
Santa Clara (5-9-4; 3-5-2 WCC) has gone 2-0-1 in its last three matches and finds itself playing its best soccer of the season. This after going winless in their first six overtime games and suffering three-straight one-goal defeats in mid-October.
"It's great to see our guys still committed to our system and this team," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of the results we hoped for earlier in the year. But these guys are really working to play better soccer, being the best team we can be through the entire year. That's been really enjoyable to work with."
Rast, who signed a contract extension Friday to coach the Broncos through the 2014 season, saw his freshman striker Hurtado blast a loose ball past USF keeper Brendan Roslund in the 34th minute.
Hurtado's team-leading fifth goal set off an extended celebration for the Broncos and their fans. Not only was Santa Clara playing to beat its long-time rival, but the match was featured live on the Fox Soccer Channel as the NSCAA's `Game of the Week.'
USF (6-9-1; 3-6-0 WCC) battled back, firing-off 12 shots, including three on goal that were saved by Godrej in the second half. All-WCC forward Conor Chinn nearly tied it with 12 minutes left, finding open space and chipping a ball towards the far post but Godrej came-up with the diving stop.
"I did not have any hesitation to put (Godrej) in tonight," said Rast after regular keeper Larry Jackson became a late scratch from the starting lineup. "I am very happy for him. Not only is he extremely talented, but he's a senior and a great positive team guy for us."
The match was fiercely contested and went back-and-forth throughout but neither team was carded and just 10 total fouls were committed.
Santa Clara will play Loyola Marymount and San Diego at home next weekend, wrapping-up its regular season schedule.