Sept. 28, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - If it seems that every week a Santa Clara student-athlete has been earning player or team of the week recognition, well, that's because they have been. Junior Lauren Zealear became the latest Bronco so honored as she was named to Top Drawer Soccer's National Team of the Week for her performances in Bronco victories over Saint Louis and then-No. 19 Cal Poly.
In those two matches Zealear, in her first season playing defense full-time after spending much of the previous two seasons in the middle and at forward, was part of a stingy back line that did not allow a goal in the run of play in either match. Other than a penalty kick which accounted for the only Billiken goal in the 45th minute, Clara's back line held Saint Louis without a single shot from that point on.
Sunday afternoon against Cal Poly, the Broncos simply refused to let the Mustangs create any opportunities in the Bronco half of the field. The Mustangs were held to five shots and only one on frame, while their two leading scorers, Sharon Day and Becky Clark, combined to take only one shot thanks to the efforts of Zealear and fellow defensive starters Micaela Esquivel, Danielle Potts and Marian Dalmy.
"Lauren's a real coachable student-athlete so she'll be successful wherever we put her on the field," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "She's made the transition to center-back very nicely and she has been one of our players who has played very consistently on the field this season. Lauren is one of the key reasons why at the beginning of this year we're allowing fewer goals compared to last year, even though we're playing a more demanding schedule."
Making Zealear's accomplishment all the more significant is that it represents her strong work ethic and determination in returning to form from a serious knee injury near the end of last season. In last year's NCAA Quaterfinal match against Illinois, Zealear tore her ACL, which forced her to miss all off-season workouts until the beginning of this summer.
"In last year's quarterfinal she tore her ACL and missed our entire spring season," Smith continued. "Given what she's been through it's a real credit to Lauren that she's out there playing a new position and consistently playing that position at such a high level."
Zealear and the Broncos return to action tonight at Spartan Stadium as they take on San Jose State as part of Rivalry Series Week. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.