Oct. 8, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It was one of those "same result, different day" kind of deals for the No. 3 Santa Clara women's soccer team Sunday afternoon as the defense flexed its muscle once more, recording its 10th shutout of the season, and sixth in a row, in the 2-0 win over the San Diego Toreros in the teams' West Coast Conference opener at Buck Shaw Stadium. While the back line held the Torero attack in check, two late goals by the front line provided the margin of victory.
The Broncos (11-2-0, 1-0-0 WCC) will now take to the road for the next two matches, beginning Friday, Oct. 13 at No. 21 Loyola Marymount, where a 4 p.m. battle with the Lions awaits. SCU will close the weekend on Sunday, Oct. 15 with a 1 p.m. clash with the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu.
Brittany Klein scored the winner at the 77:20 mark on a well-executed play off of a dead-ball situation, while Amanda Poach netted her second of the season with under a minute to go. Lexi Orand had an assist to continue her high-scoring week, while Jordan Angeli and Marian Dalmy also provided assists.
"San Diego is a very good defensive team and they really concern themselves with defending us first, so we have to really continue to grind, and that's what we did today and ultimately got a break on the goal off the free kick on a good heads-up play by Jordan knocking it to Brit for the classic finish," said head coach Jerry Smith. "The hardest part of this type of game is getting that first goal, and it took us awhile to get it. San Diego is an outstanding defensive team and very organized and disciplined so that's why it took us awhile to break it down."
"[Getting this first conference win] gives us a lot of confidence as a team, we know we're capable of winning big games out there, so it will help us going ahead this season," Klein said afterwards.
The teams engaged in an evenly-matched affair right from the start, as both sides alternated making headway into the other's attacking third, but could not follow through with strong chances. San Diego (8-5-0, 0-1-0 WCC) nearly got on the board in the first minute of the match, as Hallie Huston turned the corner on the Bronco defense found herself in a foot race to the loose ball with SCU goalkeeper Meagan McCray closing in. Although Huston got to the ball a split second before McCray, the sophomore keeper was already sliding into Huston's sightline and stuffed the attempt.
"The ball came down the line real fast at the top of the box, so I thought I might as well come out, sprawl out, and hope the ball deflects off me, and it did," McCray said of her stop of a potential Torero scoring opportunity.
Amanda Poach had SCU's best opportunity of the half, nearly cashing in on a free kick from nearly 40 yards out from the near side. Poach's looping bomb looked headed for the top of the goalmouth, but ended up just inches high, catching the top of the crossbar.
Santa Clara outshot San Diego by a 6-4 margin over the scoreless first 45 minutes, but in the second half, it would be the Broncos defense which took over until the attack could put the match away.
"This feels great, I think it comes down to having a strong back four and defensive mids working real hard for us," McCray noted after the defense's 10th shutout of the season. "It's a total team effort."
With San Diego's attack nullified by the smothering SCU defense, the Bronco attack finally solved the USD defense in the 78th minute with a heads-up play off of a direct free kick. Instead of setting up for a cross into the box, Angeli instead sent a perfectly-timed quick-kick to Klein, who streaked past the discombobulated Torero wall and beat keeper Brittany Cameron with a shot that ricocheted in off the far post.
"We were aware that this kind of play was going to play a role in this game, so Jordan and I just made eye contact, and it worked for us," Klein said of the scoring sequence.
"That is something that we trained on this week, so we talked about the various ways that we could utilize our free-kick opportunities this week," Smith said of Angeli and Klein's scoring play. "Jordan and Brittany's experience and the team being well-prepared for free-kick situations really helped us."
Now playing in a one-goal hole, the Toreros tried to break out and assault the Bronco attacking third, but the defense, along with McCray, who made three saves to record her seventh shutout of the season and extend her streak to 415:17 without allowing a goal, dug in and surrendered only one shot to USD in the second half.
With 16 seconds left, Poach got her second goal of the season, taking a feed from Orand to beat the Torero back line, which had surged forward, and come one-on-one with goalkeeper Karen Cook, who replaced an injured Cameron in the 86th minute. Poach's bullet whizzed by Cook to cap SCU's victory.