September 23, 2009

Tough Test Awaits Broncos in No. 25 Brown

Sept. 23, 2009

 Watch Friday Night's Match on Broncos' All-Access

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Broncos play their final two non-conference matches this weekend, first matching-up with unbeaten and 25th-ranked Brown University at Buck Shaw Stadium Friday, September 25 at 7:30 p.m., then facing San Jose State University at Spartan Stadium in San Jose Sunday, September 27 at 7 p.m.

Friday night's match with Brown is the second part of a women's and men's soccer doubleheader at Buck Shaw Stadium. The ninth-ranked Santa Clara women will be playing Cal State Fullerton at 5 p.m.

Santa Clara (2-4-0) has battled through a tough early-season schedule, taking losses to No. 5 California, No. 23 UC Irvine and regionally-ranked Stanford. The Broncos - looking for its first multiple goal game in five tries- will have to find a way to break down a stingy Brown's defense that has allowed just one goal all year.

"These games are important for us," said Santa Clara team captain Jalil Anibaba. "We really believe in what we are doing and believe in our system. We are getting close to where we need to be heading into league play but it won't be easy this weekend, Brown has a really good team."

LIVE COVERAGE: Friday night's match with Brown can be watched live via ALL-ACCESS on Santa Clara University's official athletics website (www.santaclarabroncos.com). Sam Farber (play-by-play) will call the action. Additionally, live scoring for both matches will be available on (www.santaclarabroncos.com), and a live audio link will be available for Sunday's match at SJSU.

THE SERIES: Brown's NCAA Tournament team of 2007 beat Santa Clara 2-1 in the `Brown adidas Classic' in Providence, R.I. The Bears hold a 1-0-1 all-time series lead over SCU, with the two schools tying 2-2 on a neutral field in San Francisco in October of 2002. As you might imagine Santa Clara and San Jose State have a long-standing local rivalry that dates back to 1967 - SCU's first year of intercollegiate soccer. The Broncos hold a 21-19-3 all-time series edge. SCU is 3-0-2 vs. SJSU in the past five meetings, tying last season 1-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium. The two teams attracted one of the largest crowds in SCU program history on September 22, 2006, playing to a scoreless tie in front of 4,017 at Buck Shaw Stadium.

BROWN: The Bears (4-0-1) are ranked No. 25 nationally in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25. The Bears have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons under head coach Mike Noonan. Brown has not allowed a goal since playing regionally-ranked Lehigh to a 1-1 draw in their season-opener at home September 6. Brown rolled past Rhode Island 5-0 Saturday, September 19 on the road, firing-off 16 shots, 11 on goal.

SAN JOSE STATE: The Spartans (2-5-0) have won both of its home games this season, including an impressive 4-1 victory over then-No. 25 UC Davis on September 1. Since then SJSU has played five-of-six away from home, losing 2-1 at Cal Poly on Sunday. San Jose State was 9-5-4 overall last season, competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) which has reintroduced its conference tournament, which will be held in Denver this November. SJSU was 7-1-2 at home last season. They are picked to finish third in the eight-team MPSF this year behind defending champions Denver and the Rebels of UNLV.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Santa Clara freshman forward Erik Hurtado, the reigning two-time Class 6A "Player of the Year" in the state of Oregon, has been terrific in his first six collegiate matches. Exceptionally talented with ball, dribbling and creating offense, Hurtado leads the Broncos with 12 shots and has accounted for each of SCU's last two goals - a game-winner against Sacramento State on September 13 and an unassisted tally in the first half at then-No. 7 California Sunday.

After Hurtado's goal lifted Santa Clara past Sacramento State, SCU Head Coach Cameron Rast said of Hurtado: "Games can be decided in a number of different ways and tonight the difference was the inspiration of a player who is the very definition of a pure forward."

Brown's junior goalkeeper Paul Grandstrand, a native of Orono, Minnesota, was honored as the 2007 Ivy League `Rookie of the Year' and has earned All-Ivy League honors a one of the conference's best goalies. Grandstrand who split time in net with now-graduated Honorable Mention All-Ivy selection, Jarrett Leech last season, went 10-1-1 as a starter his freshman year. He is off to a terrific start in 2009, having not allowed a goal in four-straight matches.

San Jose State senior forward Nick Cukar, the leading scorer in the MPSF last season. Cukar leads the Spartans in goals (3), shots (13) and points (6). The team co-captain from Millbrae and Capuchino High School was an NSCAA Second Team/adidas All-Far West Region player last year and First Team All-MPSF selection.

SCU HEAD COACH CAM RAST: Cameron Rast enters his eighth season at the helm of the Santa Clara men's soccer program. The three-time West Coast Conference "Coach of the Year" (2003, 2006 & 2007) has led the Broncos to five NCAA Tournament appearances and three WCC titles. He has coached 51 players who have earned All-WCC honors, 16 NSCAA All-Far West Region award-winners, developed 13 future professionals, and coached six All-Americans - all in just seven seasons. His overall career record entering the 2009 season stands at 87-38-24 (.664). During an outstanding player career, Rast scored 11 goals as the captain of SCU's 1989 NCAA National Championship team. A two-time collegiate All-American, Rast would go on to captain the U.S. Olympic Team in 1992.

RECENT RESULTS/UPCOMING SCHEDULE:
L, 2-0 vs. STANFORD (9/17)
L, 3-1 @ #7 California (9/20)
vs. #25 BROWN (9/25)
@ San Jose State (9/27)
vs. PORTLAND (10/2)
vs. GONZAGA (10/4)
@ San Francisco (10/9)

TITLE CONTENDERS: Santa Clara has been projected as the West Coast Conference runners-up according to the 2009 WCC men's soccer preseason poll, as voted on by the league's head coaches. The Broncos are one year removed from winning back-to-back WCC Championships and advancing into the third round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

"The preseason coaches poll shows there is a lot of respect for the quality of players we have in our program and the tradition of success we've had in conference play," said Rast. "Our preseason schedule should have us well-prepared to make a run for the conference crown later this season."

2009 WCC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. San Francisco - 36 (6)
2. Santa Clara - 24
T3. Loyola Marymount - 23 (1)
T3. Gonzaga - 23
5. San Diego - 19
6. Portland - 16
7. Saint Mary's - 6
Points (First place votes)

AROUND THE WCC: The WCC men's soccer programs are off to an impressive start - collectively owning a 22-15-5 record. No. 25 Loyola Marymount (4-2-0), San Diego (4-2-0) and Gonzaga (4-2-2) are atop the non-conference standings. LMU is 2-1-0 on the road and knocked-off then-No. 5 Dartmouth last week at the San Diego Nike Classic. LMU (#7) and San Diego (#8) are regionally ranked in the NSCAA West Region this week.

ALL-WCC DEFENDER: Bronco center defender Jalil Anibaba has been named to the 2009 WCC Men's Soccer Preseason All-Conference team. Anibaba, a junior from Davis, California, is in the midst of a storied collegiate career. He was named the WCC "Freshman of the Year" in 2007. As a sophomore in 2008 Anibaba garnered All-America honors from Soccer America and was named to the All-WCC Second Team.

NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONS - 20th ANNIVERSARY: The 1989 Santa Clara Broncos forever put the name `Santa Clara' on the men's collegiate soccer map, claiming a share of the NCAA National Championship. The last undefeated (20-0-3) team in Division I men's soccer, SCU had seven players earn All-West Coast Conference honors, including Jeff Baicher, the NCAA Championship Offensive MVP. 1989 team captain Cameron Rast, and current SCU head coach, was honored as an All-American.

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER AT SCU: The San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS have signed a three-year lease with Santa Clara University to use the Broncos' soccer facilities. SCU's Buck Shaw Stadium and its practice facility at Stanton Field have received major renovations and upgrades to the playing surfaces, press box, entrance, locker rooms and drainage systems this offseason.

ELEVEN BRONCOS PLAYING IN MLS: More than 50 Santa Clara players have gone on to play professional soccer, including 11 on MLS rosters entering the 2009 season. Four Broncos were chosen off the 2007 West Coast Conference title team in the 2008 MLS Draft - the most-ever from a single SCU class. Four-time All-WCC honoree Jide Ogunbiyi was selected No. 18 overall by the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2008, the second-highest MLS draft pick in program history.

TICKETS: For tickets and more information call the Santa Clara ticket office at (408) 554-4660.