February 19, 2002

We Are the Champions

Feb. 19, 2002

Complete Release in PDF Format
Download Free Acrobat Reader

We are the Champions!
Santa Clara University defeated previously unbeaten North Carolina 1-0 to win the 2001 NCAA College Cup Championship. The Broncos, the tournament's second overall seed, won its first national title in their fifth trip to the College Cup in the last six seasons, and eighth overall. The trophy also marks the first outright NCAA championship in school history. The men's soccer team shared the 1989 title with Virginia.

Welcome Home Party
When the Broncos arrived at San Jose International airport, about 40 friends and family, not to mention four local television stations, were on hand to welcome the national champions home. Staff members decorated the team vans and drove the travel party back to campus and in front of the Mission Church, where about 200 more friends, family and members of the community greeted the team.

Athletics Director Announces Surprise at Annual Banquet
Aly Wagner was named Player of the Year by her teammates at the squad's annual banquet, held February 15 at the Pat Malley Center on campus. More than 250 fans took part in the celebratory evening that honored the school's first-ever NCAA title in a women's sport. During the event, Director of Athletics Cheryl Levick surprised the entire room by announcing that the team has been invited to the White House. The Broncos are one of six collegiate national championship squads invited by President George W. Bush as part of Champions Day on Tuesday, March 12. The team will receive a private tour of the White House and a reception in the Rose Garden. The squad also voted Wagner as the team's Offensive MVP, while Danielle Slaton was honored with the Defensive MVP and the Most Inspirational Player awards. Leslie Osborne received Rookie of the Year recognition while Lana Bowen was named Most Improved Player. Chardonnay Poole received the Coaches Award. Additionally, the 2001 senior class-Ynez Carrasco, Kerry Cathcart, Anna Kraus, Katie Sheppard and Slaton-were honored.

Wagner Wins Honda Award
Aly Wagner was named the top woman collegiate athlete in women's soccer for the collegiate year, according to the results of national balloting among NCAA-member schools. In addition to the honor of this selection, the Honda Awards Program will donate $5,000 to the women's athletic fund for SCU. The other three finalists were Florida's Abby Wambach, and Penn State's Christie Welsh and Joanna Lohman. Wagner is now an automatic nominee for the Honda-Broderick Cup, which is awarded annually to the national's outstanding collegiate woman athlete of the year through all NCAA competition, as chosen by a panel of college athletic directors. That winner will be announced June 17, 2002, at the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Banquet, which will be held in Dallas during the NACDA convention. Wagner becomes the second Bronco to receive the Honda Award for soccer. Former Standout Brandi Chastain '91 won the award after the 1990 season. North Carolina's Mia Hamm and Notre Dame's Cindy Daws are the Honda Award winners for soccer who were also named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

Live on the Internet
For the first time in program history, Santa Clara's entire home schedule was heard on a live Internet audio broadcast on www.SantaClaraBroncos.com. Additionally, Buck Shaw contests could be followed online with a live statistical tracker, also located on Santa Clara's official athletic website. By logging on, fans received real-time updated statistics direct from the official scoring computer, allowing users to listen to the audio broadcast and keep up with the statistics simultaneously. Ram Fletcher and Will Saso shared duties as the voice of the Broncos with SCU men's soccer alumni Mark Wojciechowski adding color commentary.

Soccer Town, USA
With its first NCAA title, Santa Clara brought the third national championship of the season home to the South Bay. The Bay Area CyberRays, one of the country's eight Women's United Soccer Association's teams, won the inaugural Founders Cup in August. The San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer followed suit with its first MLS Cup in October, leaving no question that Santa Clara is nestled in Soccer Town, USA.

Bronco Offense is Best in the Nation
Santa Clara ranked first in the nation in total offense, averaging 3.2 goals per game with 80 goals in 25 matches. The Bronco defense was also ranked, seventh with a 0.60 goals-against average. Individually, junior Aly Wagner led the nation in assists, averaging 0.83 per game while adding 17 goals to her totals. That averaged to place her fourth nationally in points per game with a 2.25 average. Freshman Alyssa Sobolik ranked seventh nationally in goals against average (.56 pg), having allowed only nine goals in 18 matches and 1434 minutes of action. She was one of two freshmen ranked in the top 20.

Why the Broncos Didn't Open the Championships at Home
A week before the regular season ended, the NCAA announced that as a result of the September 11 tragedies and concern for the welfare of the student-athletes, the Division I Championships/Competition Cabinet and Management Council approved adjustments to seeding, site selection and pairings for the championship. The memo added that the changes were implemented in light of the unstable world climate in order to minimize air travel and mitigate risk, inconvenience and travel delays to the greatest extent possible. The changes included seeding only eight teams and moving seeds to other regions if there were too many from the same region. That means that the NCAA was not guaranteeing that a top-seeded team would host and that site selection would be based on geographic location. Of the eight seeds, Santa Clara was the only school not hosting the first two rounds.

Balancing Finals with the Championship
While at the College Cup, the Broncos' 22 student-athletes balanced preparations both matches with class finals. Most of the players attempted to take exams before the team left for Dallas on Wednesday, but team officials administered seven finals while on the road. In previous championships, the College Cup would take place one week before finals, but the expansion of this year's tournament, the final three matches of the NCAA soccer season fell in line with finals week for SCU, which is on the quarter system.

Wagner Named a Hermann Trophy Finalist
Aly Wagner was named one of four finalists for the Hermann Trophy, joining North Carolina's Jena Kluegel, Florida's Abby Wambach and eventual winner Christie Welsh of Penn State. The players were the top four vote-getters out of the 15 semifinalists, which also included Bronco Danielle Slaton. The Hermann Trophy, soccer's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, has been given annually since 1988 to the nation's best female college soccer player. Wagner was named one of five finalists for last year's honor while Slaton is a two-time semifinalist. Mandy Clemens became the first Bronco to be honored with the Hermann, when she was announced as the 1999 winner. Clemens was only the second SCU player to capture the title of national player of the year. Former standout Brandi Chastain earned postseason honors following the 1990 season as she was named the 1990 ISAA Player of the Year.

MAC Player of the Year Finalists
Aly Wagner placed fourth in the voting for the 11th annual Missouri Athletic Club's Collegiate Player of the Year Award, as announced by the MAC Sports Foundation. Wagner and Danielle Slaton were named finalists earlier in the year. Last season, Slaton finished fourth while Wagner placed fifth in the final ballots. The award is the official NSCAA/adidas award for Division I players. Former standout Mandy Clemens won the award in 1999.

Wagner Notches 50-Point Season
With her three points against Virginia, Aly Wagner became only the fifth Bronco in program history to post 50 points in a season, joining Mandy Clemens (71 - 1999), Jenny Fechner (60 - 1982), Brandi Chastain (50 - 1990) and Jacqui Little (50 - 1999). Wagner finished with 54, the third highest season total in SCU annals.

NCAA College Cup Championship Recap
(AP) - The newcomers looked like the veterans in Sunday's NCAA College Cup Championship. Santa Clara scored a first-half goal and then used tough defense to beat top seed and 16-time champion North Carolina 1-0. The win gave the second-seeded Broncos their first national title after seven trips to the national semifinals. Santa Clara's goal came in the 41st minute when Leslie Osborne picked up a loose ball at midfield and dropped it into the far right corner. Jessica Ballweg made a quick move on North Carolina's Danielle Borgman and then spun to get away. Ballweg then slid a pass to Aly Wagner, who was standing in the middle of the field 20 yards out. Wagner controlled the ball before firing a shot past Tar Heels keeper Jenni Branam into the lower right side. It was Wagner's 17th goal of the season and her fourth in the NCAA tournament at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Wagner was named the tournament's offensive MVP after Sunday's win. "The goal (Wagner) scored was world-class. They played a heck of a game to beat us," North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance said.

UNC's normally aggressive offense never found a rhythm. The Tar Heels had only one shot on goal in the first half and few opportunities in the second. North Carolina did break through once but an offsides call negated Sara Randolph's goal in the 77th minute. Santa Clara also snapped North Carolina's 34-game win streak and 11-game NCAA tournament streak. The Tar Heels have been in the final four in all 20 College Cups and haven't lost an NCAA tournament game since falling to Florida 1-0 in the 1998 final.

NCAA College Cup Semifinal Recap
(AP) - Veronica Zepeda scored a goal in overtime to lead Santa Clara past Florida 3-2 and into the NCAA Women's College Cup. In the second game semifinal match of the night, the Broncos won for the first time in eight national semifinal games. In the fourth minute of overtime, Jessica Ballweg made a move 25 yards out and took a quick shot. The ball bounced to Zepeda, who was standing at the top of the circle. She fired a high shot that hit the top of the crossbar, just inside the goal line.

Zepeda scored in the first half on the first of two assists by Aly Wagner. Wagner sent a ball over the Florida defense from 20 yards out. Florida goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren came 10 yards out of the box to pick up the ball. Zepeda beat Kellgren to it and sent a shot by her that trickled across the goal line. Florida scored two goals in the last 6:22 to tie the game. It was the first time the two teams have played since the Gators knocked Santa Clara out in the semifinals of the 1998 College Cup on their way to the national title.

In the Rankings
Santa Clara finished first in the final polls by NCSAA/adidas and Soccer Buzz Magazine. The Broncos were ranked second in the final regular season polls by Soccer America and Soccer Times. Overall, Santa Clara went 10-2 against ranked opponents, with four wins over top-five foes: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 UCLA, No. 4 Stanford and No. 4 Portland.

Slaton Named One of WCC's 50 Best of All Time
Danielle Slaton was named one of the 50 greatest athletes in West Coast Conference history, league officials announced in November. She was one of eight Bronco standouts that were honored, and was the only selection on the 50-member squad who was currently an active participant. Mandy Clemens also of women's soccer, Dennis Awtrey, Steve Nash, Kurt Rambis and Ken Sears from men's basketball, Melissa King from women's basketball and Cameron Rast from men's soccer were also included as some of the greatest student-athletes to ever grace the courts, courses, and fields over the last five decades.

The elite list was compiled by the league as part of the celebration honoring its 50th year of existence. The list includes only individuals from the league's current membership who participated in WCC athletics while the conference sponsored each performer's particular sport. The full list is available at WCCSports.com, the official website of the West Coast Conference.

WCC Champions
Santa Clara returned to the top of the league leaderboard with its fourth West Coast Conference Championship in five years, and fifth overall. The Broncos went 6-1 in league play for the 2001 crown, and earned the WCC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara's other titles came in 1993, '97, '98 and '99.

Taking Away Perfection
Santa Clara's 1-0 win over No. 1 North Carolina for the NCAA Championship marked the fifth time this season the Broncos have ended a team's undefeated campaign. Including the season-opening win against Cal Poly, SCU also ended Stanford's 7-0 record with a 2-1 overtime win, No. 7 Saint Mary's 12-0-1 start with a 1-0 win and UCLA's 11-0 season with a 3-0 victory.

Osborne Strikes Early For Place in Recordbook
Leslie Osborne's goal against Fresno State became the sixth-fastest goal scored ever by a Bronco. She headed in her fifth goal of the season just 37 seconds after the match began. The fastest goal ever was notched just 15 seconds into a 1990 match against Sonoma State by Linda Hoffman.

Newcomers Outnumber Returning Letterwinners
With the graduation of six seniors and the loss of four more student-athletes, head coach Jerry Smith rearmed his squad with the largest recruiting class in Bronco history, signing eight freshmen to his roster during the spring. He gained four more players with three walk-ons and a transfer student-athlete.

Program One of the Top Five Most Improved
Soccer Buzz Magazine named Santa Clara's 2001season the fifth most improved program, compared to their 2000 record. Using the NCAA Standard for calculating a team's change in record from the previous season, Campell was named the most improved, followed by Troy State, South Carolina, Alabama Birmingham and the Broncos. Using traditional calculations to show percentage comparisons in a team's record from the previous season, Santa Clara fell to 20th.

Broncos Sign Three to Class of 2006
Jerry Smith announced the signing of three players to National Letters of Intent on Feb. 6. Joining the Bronco Class of 2006 is Bonnie Bowman of San Carlos, Carrie Schuler of Northridge, and Micaela Esquivel of Albuquerque, N.M.

"We have an outstanding returning team, but these three will be challenged in their first year to earn a starting position, they will contribute their first year here," Smith said.

Bowman is a 5-9 defender from Notre Dame High School. She is a member of the Cal North State ODP U16 Team and plays club ball for Golden Gate Premier. Like Bowman, Schuler is a defender, but slightly smaller at 5-5. Out of Louisville High School, Schuler led her prep team to the 2001 CIF Division IV Championship while earning three-time All-Mission League honors. Her club team, L.A. Force, won the premier bracket of the 2001 Nomads Tournament. A member of New Mexico's Olympic Development Team for the past four years, Esquivel is a 5-5 midfielder from Albuquerque Academy. She has won eight state championships with her club teams, including five with Albuquerque United. Named New Mexico's Player of the Year last season, she led her prep team to the state championship, leading the squad in goals in assists, including seven scores in the state tournament.

Blondes Do Have More Fun
No, that wasn't Landon Donavan on the sidelines for the Broncos, but rather SCU head coach Jerry Smith with blonde hair. Beginning this season, the West Coast Conference adopted an award that will reward the athletic programs within the league that have the top overall performances in conference play. The inaugural "Commissioner's Cup" is an all-sports award that utilizes a point system reflecting the finish of each team in conference standings to determine the top overall athletic program in the WCC. At the end of the year the league will present men and women's all-sports awards as well as the overall Commissioner's Cup to the top performing athletic program. The points will be awarded based on regular-season or conference championship finishes in the league's 13 sponsored sports, with eight points for the champion, seven for second-place and so on.

With that in mind, Smith challenged his player to win the conference championship not just for their team, but for the good of the entire athletic department. The girls requested some fun and Smith agreed to comply, not knowing what he was agreeing to until after the team captured the title. The Broncos won the WCC title on November 4 and during the team's trip to Champaign, Ill., selected players took Smith to a local mall for the dye job and an ear piercing, where a new diamond stud can be found in Smith's left ear. He promised to maintain the coif through the season and scheduled a hair appointment for Monday, December 10, but surprisingly kept the look through the holidays. Santa Clara also won conference titles this year in women's cross country and men's soccer, while the men's cross country and volleyball teams placed second, giving the Broncos an 8.5-point lead at the conclusion of the fall sports season.

Assistant athletic director Jonathan Clough joined in challenge if the team won a national title, and received his dye job and ear piercing hours before the banquet.

Smith Notches 50th Conference Victory
SCU head coach Jerry Smith earned his 50th WCC victory when the Broncos shut out Gonzaga earlier this season. With his third conference crown in four years, Smith is 54-11-1 (.826) all-time in league play, second overall to Portland's Clive Charles, whose record stands at 55-8-1.