September 7, 2006

No. 3 Broncos Face Top-10 Challenges In L.A.

Sept. 7, 2006

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 3 Santa Clara University women's soccer team will look to have a rebound weekend starting Friday as they travel down to Los Angeles to participate in the UCLA Women's Cup. One week after falling 3-1 at Notre Dame and losing their No. 1 national ranking, the Broncos begin the climb back to the top with a Friday contest against No. 9 Connecticut before Sunday's nationally-televised match against third-ranked Texas A&M at 11:30 a.m.

Friday's clash with the Huskies is set for a 4:30 p.m. start. Sunday's match against the Aggies will be televised on ESPNU with kickoff scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

The SCU lineup will be bolstered this weekend with the recent return of two key starters to the Mission Campus in forward Jordan Angeli and midfielder Amanda Poach, who spent the previous month in Russia with the U.S. Under-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Championships.

"It's always great to get such talented players as Jordan and Amanda back and it will be interesting to see how much of an impact they have for us this weekend," said head coach Jerry Smith. "They're both such leaders on this team that they're ultimately going to have a great impact for us."

Friday night's match between the Broncos and Huskies will be the first meeting between the two squads since SCU took a 2-1 overtime victory on Sept. 10, 2000 in South Bend, Ind. UConn (2-1-1) is coming off a weekend which saw them split a pair of matches at the Yale Soccer Classic, falling 3-2 to North Carolina before rebounding with a 2-1 victory over the Duke Blue Devils.

UConn is led on the pitch by Brittany Taylor's three goals and one assist, while Annie Yi and Elizabeth Eng each have netted a goal to go with two assists.

Friday night's match will also mark the second time in two weeks that two "300-Win Club" head coaches will meet, as Connecticut's Len Tsantiris (418 career wins) and Santa Clara's Jerry Smith (314 career wins) come head-to-head one week after Tsantiris' Huskies battled the North Carolina Tarheels, under head coach Anson Dorrance (606 career wins).

"I have tremendous respect for Len and his program, we've matched up several times over my 20 seasons here at Santa Clara and his 25 at UConn," Smith said of his colleague. "It's always fun and challenging to face the other top coaches in the country, so I definitely look forward to this matchup. They're obviously playing very well and we anticipate a very challenging match against them on Friday."

The third-ranked Aggies enter this weekend's tournament in Los Angeles riding a Texas-sized wave of momentum. After shocking North Carolina 1-0 in the season opener, Texas A&M continued their solid play last weekend with a 3-0 win over Illinois before playing second-ranked Penn State to a 1-1 draw at the Big 12/Big Ten Challenge.

A&M has quickly made its presence felt on the national scene, rising to No. 3 in the Soccer Times poll, and the team is led on the pitch by the play of Madison Klovstad (three goals), Laura Grace Robinson (two goals, two assists), and goalkeeper Kristin Arnold (0.25 GAA, two shutouts).

"Texas A&M provides a lot of unique opportunities for us, one, it's a little different style of play, they are a very athletic team, and they are a team that has kind of been knocking on the door of the Final Four-caliber teams in the country," Smith said of the Aggies rise to national prominence.

"This is exactly what we want from our non-conference schedule, to have a number of tests," Smith continued. "What this will do is harden the team a little bit, continue to expose our weaknesses, and then give us time in October and November to sort those things out before the NCAA Tournament."

Following this weekend's action, the No. 3 Broncos will return to the Bay Area, traveling to Palo Alto next week to take part in the Stanford Nike Classic.