November 16, 2003

Women's Soccer Tops ASU in NCAA Second Round

Nov. 16, 2003

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For the second consecutive season, the Santa Clara University women's soccer team defeated Arizona State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to advance through the postseason, this afternoon a 1-0 victory at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Santa Clara improves to 14-3-5 and will face West Coast Conference rival and defending NCAA Champions Portland (18-3-1) in the third round of the tournament, to be held next Sunday, November 23 at 1 p.m. at Merlo Field in Portland, Ore. The Sun Devils, who lost to SCU 5-1 in last year's tournament, end this season with a 13-5-3 record.

An early first half-goal was the difference, as Santa Clara scored in the 19th minute. Junior midfielder Leslie Osborne started the play, distributing the ball wide to junior defender Lana Bowen, who was making a run on the left side. Bowen found freshman Tina Estrada in front of the goal, who let the ball roll past two ASU defenders before taking her shot and earning her seventh goal of the season.

"Arizona State gave us an awesome soccer game today," SCU head coach Jerry Smith said. "At half time, we reminded our players that it will not be easy in the second half, and it was not. [Arizona State] was bound and determined not to let this game get away from them, and they did not. They had a couple of chances to equalize the game. That kind of stress and pressure for our team to deal with will pay dividends for us as we go through the tournament. I'm very proud of my team. I thought they showed a lot of heart, determination, toughness and composure."

Santa Clara took control of the match's tempo early, with short, efficient passing for the majority of the first half. The Broncos out-shot ASU 8-2 in the period. The second half featured a midfield battle between the two teams, with Arizona State seeing a scoring opportunity in the 50th minute. Manya Makoski was fouled just outside the 18-yard box. That set up a free kick chance, but Brittany Cooper's shot hit the Bronco wall and deflected back out. In the final minutes of the match, ASU had two more chances, the first a Cooper blast that just went over the crossbar. The final opportunity came with just under a minute left in regulation, when the Sun Devils had a three-on-two break, but the rush was called offsides.

ASU goalkeeper Kim Bingham posted five saves on the day, while freshman Julie Ryder made three in her ninth shut out of the season.

"We were playing against a very experienced team and we gained more experience from playing in the game," ASU head coach Ray Leone said. "I'm so proud of this group. We cracked like you wouldn't believe last year. This year, they scored a goal, we didn't break at all and we gave them a good run for their money. It showed the strength of our team's character."

The Broncos, the 2001 National Champions and 2002 College Cup finalists, are the tournament's ninth overall seed and are making their 15th straight NCAA postseason appearance. The quarterfinals will be played November 28-30. The 2003 Women's College Cup will be held December 5 and 7 and is hosted by North Carolina State University and the Capital Area Soccer League in Cary, N.C.

Osborne looked ahead to next week's match against the Pilots: "I'm excited to play them; I don't care where we play. This is when everything is on the line, and last year they took it away from us, so I'm excited to play them because I know we can win."

"I think we're very motivated, we have something to prove," Smith added. "We played in the last two national championship games. We want to get back and become the national champions again. That's our motivation. We get to play a really good Portland team. Somebody has to dethrone the defending champions and we can do that next weekend."