Broncos Face Notre Dame in College Cup Semifinal
Nov. 30, 2004
Santa Clara University continues action at the 2004 NCAA Women's Soccer College Cup with a semifinal match against second-ranked Notre Dame, scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. North Carolina State University and the Capital Area Soccer League are the event's hosts. The Broncos, the 2001 National Champions and 2002 College Cup finalists, are the tournament's 16th overall seed and are ranked fourth in the country. They boast an 18-4-2 record and are making their 16th straight NCAA postseason appearance. Santa Clara received the West Coast Conference's automatic berth into the Tournament after winning its fourth straight West Coast Conference Championship. The Broncos look to extend their current 11-match win streak against the fourth-seeded Fighting Irish and are making their 10th College Cup appearance.
Seventh seed Princeton and 14th seed UCLA will play in the first semifinal. The winners will meet on Sunday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time for the national title. All three contests will broadcast live on ESPN2.
On the Fighting Irish
Notre Dame (23-1-1) advanced to the College Cup with a 4-0 first-round victory over Eastern Illinois and a 1-0 victory over Wisconsin in the second round. The Fighting Irish followed with a 2-0 win over Connecticut in third-round action, and topped Portland 3-1 in last weekend's quarterfinal. UND will be making the program's seventh overall College Cup appearance. The Irish defeated the Broncos earlier in the season, using three late goals for a 5-2 win at the Notre Dame Classic on Sept. 5. Katie Thorlakson totaled eight points (3G, 2A) while becoming just the third Irish player ever to post a hat trick vs. a top-10 team.
On Princeton, UCLA
Should Santa Clara and Princeton (19-2-0) advance to Sunday's final, it will mark the first-ever meeting between these two programs. The Tigers are the first Ivy League team to advance to the Final Four. Should Santa Clara and UCLA (17-6-0) meet in the College Cup final, Santa Clara holds a 4-1-1 edge in the series, with the Bruins earning a 1-0 double overtime win earlier this season. UCLA will participate in the College Cup for the second straight year, and third time in the last five seasons. The Bruins have yet to give up a goal in the postseason.
Santa Clara Dominates Recent Postseasons
Over the past four postseasons, no team has been more dominant than Santa Clara. The Broncos have compiled an 18-2 (.900) overall record in postseason play since the 2001 Championship tournament.
Santa Clara is ranked fifth nationally in shutout percentage (0.63) and 14th in goals-against average (0.601). Individually, sophomore Julie Ryder is ranked 17th in the NCAA in goals-against average (0.609).
Senior Class Ready to Go Out on Top
Santa Clara returned a core of experienced players to the 2004 team, led by seven seniors: All-American and 2004 WCC Defender of the Year Leslie Osborne, All-WCC forwards Megan Kakadelas and Bree Horvath, defenders Jessica Ballweg, Lana Bowen and Monika Sola, and goalkeeper Alyssa Sobolik. Five of those players came in as freshmen four years ago and started on the 2001 National Championship team and are looking to close out their collegiate careers in similar fashion.
"This senior group is unbelievable," head coach Jerry Smith said. "They are determined to have a great year. They came in and won a national championship in their first year, and if it's alright with everybody else, they want to go out with an equally big bang. That brings a lot of energy to the team."
Match Tickets on Sale
College Cup tickets are on sale through the Department of Athletics' ticket office at 408-554-4660, between the hours of 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. After Wednesday, tickets can be purchased by calling the North Carolina State University ticket office at 1-800-310-PACK. Tickets are $30 to sit in the Bronco section.
North Carolina Seeing Santa Clara Red
Santa Clara Athletics just completed one of its most successful weekends ever, posting two stunning upset victories over teams from the University of North Carolina, each of which were ranked as high as No. 1 nationally. On Friday night, the men's basketball team defeated UNC at the Pete Newell Challenge in Oakland, 77-66. North Carolina was selected as preseason favorite by Sports Illustrated, and was ranked fourth nationally. Less than 18 hours later, the women's soccer team added to the Tar Heels' pain with another Bronco victory. North Carolina had never lost a tournament contest on its home field, and had never failed to make the College Cup in the 23-year history of the women's soccer NCAA Championship.
A Variety of Line Ups
Head coach Jerry Smith has used 15 different line ups in 24 contests. Injuries had played a role in the line up shifts, but Smith added that he used the preseason to experiment with players in different positions and alongside different teammates in preparation for conference play and the postseason. Smith has settled into a line up he has now used for the past six contests.
Osborne a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Semifinalist
Senior Leslie Osborne is one of 15 semifinalists for the 2004 Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy, awarded to the top players in NCAA Division I soccer. The list was compiled by the NSCAA, the official selection body for the M.A.C.'s Hermann Trophy. Osborne, a native of Menomonee Falls, Wis., is the WCC's Defensive Player of the Year and is also a preseason All-American by Soccer Buzz and Soccer America magazines. She has nine goals and one assist for 19 points so far this season.
Three finalists will be selected in early December. The winner will be announced at a dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis, Mo., on Jan. 8, 2005.
The award is college soccer's version of the Heisman Trophy. Past recipients include former Broncos Mandy Clemens and Aly Wagner. Clemens won both the Hermann Trophy and M.A.C. Player of the Year awards in 1999, while Wagner became the first honoree to have the distinction of receiving the newly-unified award.
Kakadelas Posting Points in Postseason
Megan Kakadelas has recorded five points in four postseason contests. She assisted on both goals against California in the first round, and followed with an assist on the game-winner against Stanford. In third-round action, Kakadelas scored the golden goal in overtime to lift the Broncos past North Carolina. On the season, Kakadelas has a team-leading 21 points, on seven goals and seven assists.
Broncos Open Preseason with Costa Rica Experience
In August, the Bronco program embarked on its first-ever preseason experience abroad. Head coach Jerry Smith was looking for the trip to provide many benefits for his team down the road.
"In past years, we've played Notre Dame and Stanford early in the season, right after they've taken a foreign trip, and to see how far ahead they were in their season's progression makes me very excited about how much further ahead we could be as well," he said in July, prior to the trip. "We could bring in our players a little early, train them and play them against international competition. It provides a good opportunity to really get ourselves ready for the NCAA Championship. We've gotten off to slow starts the previous two years, and this will allow us to a head start to the season. It will pay dividends at the most important time of the year, in November and December."
Smith approached his team about the foreign opportunity after the spring season, offering a week of travel to Costa Rica. The student-athletes agreed, on one condition: they didn't want to take this trip without the five new incoming players. Similar collegiate experiences usually take place in June or July, but NCAA rules prohibit newcomers from arriving on campus until August, so the Broncos delayed their trip to include the entire team.
"We had as close a group as I ever had at the end of spring," Smith said. "They are united in their approach in how they want the fall to progress and it's a testament to their veteran team chemistry that they didn't want to leave without the freshmen."