Sept. 26, 2003
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 18th-ranked Santa Clara University women's soccer team fell 3-0 to 23rd-ranked USC tonight at Buck Shaw Stadium. Santa Clara is now 3-3-3 on the season while the Women of Troy move to 4-3-2.
Tonight's result, in combination with the Broncos' loss to Notre Dame last weekend, marks the first set of back-to-back losses for Santa Clara in 78 matches. The last time SCU lost consecutive contests was early in the 2000 season, to Washington and Notre Dame.
For the second straight game, the Broncos allowed a goal in the opening minutes, when Rosa Anna Tantillo fought off a Bronco defender, brought the keeper out, and poked the ball into the lower left corner. That USC advantage held for the rest of the half.
The Broncos did not take a shot until the 39th minute, with a high attempt by Jessica Ballweg. The period only saw four shots between both squads, the lowest total in a Bronco game this season.
"Once again, a slow start put us behind the eight ball," SCU head coach Jerry Smith said. "There were bright spots in the second half, but it's tough to play from behind against an organized team like USC. I believe they deserved to win, but the score wasn't indicative of the game."
The tide turned in the second half, as SCU took 11 shots, hitting the crossbar twice. The team had a good opportunity in the 51st minute when a Marian Dalmy free kick was headed by Leslie Osborne toward the goal. USC keeper Julie Peterson made the save, one of four for her on the night.
The Trojans countered four minutes later with a huge scramble in front of Bronco netminder Alyssa Sobolik. Despite multiple opportunities for a shot, USC couldn't convert.
Veronica Zepeda entered the match early in the second half and sparked Santa Clara's lineup. Almost immediately, she slid a pass between two defenders to find Osborne, who then centered a pass to Megan Kakadelas. Her shot hit the crossbar in the 60th minute. Not one minute later, the Broncos were on the attack again, and it was Kakadelas who found Zepeda streaking toward the goal. Her shot was just wide.
Santa Clara took a penalty kick in the 72nd minute, when Zepeda was pulled down in the box on a breakaway. Osborne's shot hit the crossbar. It was the Broncos' ninth shot of the period.
"Veronica is a great player," Smith said. "We tried to play without her today due to her shin splints, but fans could see tonight what a big difference she makes the second she steps onto the field. Not having the presence of somebody like Aly Wagner this season, we need somebody like Veronica on the field. Not having her in the first half tonight showed her value to this team."
USC added two goals late in the game. The first came in the 80th minute on a breakaway. The Bronco defense was expecting an offsides call that never came and did not pursue. Jessica Edwards kept running, and although her first shot was blocked by Sobolik, Edwards was able to collect the rebound for an empty-net score. Six minutes later, a USC forward was taken down in the box, and although Sobolik guessed correctly, she couldn't get her hands on Tantillo's penalty shot.
Santa Clara closes a four-match home stand Sunday afternoon, hosting Cal Poly. At 9-0-0, the Mustangs will be the Broncos' second undefeated opponent this season in as many weeks, after SCU battled Notre Dame (6-0-1) last weekend. Santa Clara is undefeated against Cal Poly, with a 10-0-2 advantage in the all-time series. However, the Mustangs have a strong defensive front, having only allowed one goal thus far this season.