SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In front of a national television audience Friday night, the Santa Clara University men's soccer team will host local WCC rival USF at Buck Shaw Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. The two perennial conference powers have combined to win the WCC Championship in each of the past six seasons.
Santa Clara (4-9-4; 2-5-2 WCC) has played eight teams that have appeared in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top 25 or its regional top 10 polls. Grinding through one of the nation's toughest schedules, the Broncos find themselves playing some of its best soccer of 2009 heading into Friday night's match with USF.
"When you think about Santa Clara and San Francisco you think about arguably two of the best programs in the WCC," said Santa Clara head coach and former U.S. Olympic Team captain Cameron Rast. "There is a number of similarities with the two programs in terms of success and how they are run. USF has won five national championships, we have one and five final four appearances; it's just such a great rivalry."
**Cam Rast is in his eighth season as SCU head coach (91-47-28)
**Rast owns the best career winning % (.640) within league play in WCC history
**Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) will be broadcasting the game on live TV
**Seven of the Broncos' 17 matches have gone into overtime - winning just one
**USF and SCU have combined to win the past six WCC Championships
**The series between the two schools dates back to 1967, SCU's first year of soccer
**USF beat Santa Clara 2-0 in San Francisco on October 9th
**Santa Clara owns a 15-3-3 series edge over USF since 1994
**SCU team captain Jalil Anibaba is strong candidate for All-WCC honors
**Freshman forward Erik Hurtado leads all Bronco players in shots (33) and SOG (14)
**SCU has struggled to score this season, ranking last in the WCC in offense
**Both head coaches, Cam Rast (SCU) and Erik Visser (USF), won national championships for the schools they now coach
**52 Bronco players have gone on to play professional soccer
**11 Broncos played in the MLS in 2009
**Senior Ross Smith (3.89 GPA) is a strong candidate for the NCAA's Top VIII award, given to the most accomplished academic student-athletes in the nation
TV/LIVE COVERAGE: In collaboration with the NSCAA, the Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) is broadcasting Friday night's game live. The `Game of the Week' will be called by Steve Bell (play-by-play) and Keith Tabatznik (analysis). Additionally, a live statistical feed will be available for Friday's match via GAMETRACKER on (www.SantaClaraBroncos.com).
SCU HEAD COACH CAM RAST: Cameron Rast is in his eighth season at the helm of the Santa Clara men's soccer program. Three-times the West Coast Conference "Coach of the Year" (2003, 2006 & 2007), Rast has led the Broncos to five NCAA Tournament appearances and three WCC titles. He owns the best career winning % (.640) within league play in WCC history. 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 stood at 87-38-24 (.664). During an outstanding player career, Rast scored 11 goals as the captain of Santa Clara's NCAA National Championship team in 1989. A two-time collegiate All-America honoree, Rast went on to captain the U.S. Olympic Team in 1992.
USF: The Dons (6-8-1; 3-5-0 WCC) - the reigning WCC Champions - were ranked as high as 21st nationally in the early stages of the 2009 season. USF still holds an RPI of No. 65 as six of the WCC's seven schools rank among the nation's top 100. USF was shutout by both Stanford and Cal during the Bay Area Classic in late September before beginning WCC play 1-3. The Dons have scored four goals in their last two matches, netting three in a 3-1 win over LMU at home on Sunday.
USF 2, SCU 0 (Oct. 7): Bryan Burke's goal midway through the first half staked the University of San Francisco to an early lead and the Dons went on to beat visiting Santa Clara 2-0. It was a battle between two sides that are favored to contend for the 2009 West Coast Conference title. The Dons and Broncos ranked one and two respectively in the WCC 2009 preseason poll, voted upon by the league's coaches. Jonathan Levi assisted in Burke's go-ahead goal in the first half and provided another assist in the clincher in the 71st minute. USF won its first league match of the year after being swept on the road last week at No. 20 LMU and San Diego.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Santa Clara's Jalil Anibaba, an athletic 6-foot midfielder from Davis, California, can play a number of positions, starting on the front line or at center-back. He was named a preseason All-American last season by Soccer America. In 2007 he earned WCC `Freshman of the Year' honors and is projected to be a First Team All-WCC player at season's end in 2009.
Bronco freshman forward Erik Hurtado is electric with the ball. The two-time Oregon 6A `Player of the Year' from Beaverton's Westview High School, leads the Broncos in shots (33) and shots on goal (14). His unassisted game-winner gave SCU the victory over Sacramento State September 13 and more recently has notched a goal and an assist in two of the last three matches.
USF junior forward Conor Chin - the reigning WCC `Player of the Year,' has earned the WCC `Player of the Week' award twice this season. A unanimous choice to be named to the All-WCC First Team again in 2009, Chin posted his second career hatrick in the Don's 3-1 victory over LMU on Sunday.
CLOSE GAMES: Beginning with its season-opener against then-No. 15 UC Irvine, leading 2-0 at the half after two Mykell Bates' goals, Santa Clara has been in position to win most every match. More recently, the Broncos have found ways to produce results, beating Gonzaga on the road 1-0 on Eric Masch's overtime goal last Friday and tying Portland 1-1 Sunday. Seven of the Broncos' 17 matches in 2009 have gone into overtime - winning just one.
"This was a good win for us because we played so well and were rewarded with a result," said Santa Clara Head Coach Cameron Rast after beating Gonzaga last week. "We've been in so many close games and haven't been able to close the gap. Eric (Masch), who has been one of our most dangerous players, stepped up at the right moment."
D-FENCE: Led by junior team captain and All-WCC midfielder Jalil Anibaba, the Broncos have established it can defend the net. Rookie goalkeeper Larry Jackson has provided some game-changing stops. Jackson ranks among the WCC leaders in saves and shutouts. Freshman Danny Maeda and sophomore Mykell Bates have also made significant contributions to a strong SCU back line.
LAST TIME OUT: Freshman Rodrigo Da Silva, a prep star from Walnut Creek, scored his first career goal for Santa Clara, a second-half equalizer as the Broncos and Pilots played to a 1-1 draw in front of 1,543 fans Sunday afternoon in Portland. Santa Clara (4-9-4; 2-5-2 WCC) goes 1-0-1 on its two-game Northwest road trip. Sophomore Eric Masch netted an overtime winner for SCU Friday night versus Gonzaga. "We were put under a lot of pressure in the first half," said Santa Clara head coach Cameron Rast. "The second half was a different story. By the time we scored we were really controlling the game. There was an offside call that wiped-away a goal for us in the second half. We very easily could have got this one today." Portland (8-4-3; 3-3-2 WCC) entered the week ranked seventh in the NSCAA West Region's top-10. The Pilots fired-off 24 shots and had taken the lead when Michael Nielson scored at the 35-minute mark. Freshman Larry Jackson was solid in goal for the Broncos, saving seven while successfully dealing with 14 Pilot corner kicks. "The game really got wide open and Larry (Jackson) did such a good job," said Rast. "Portland did a really nice job late in the game, stepping up and responding to the momentum we had going." Erik Hurtado, who paced SCU's offense with three shots, was credited with the assist on Da Silva's tying goal midway through the second half.
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.