SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 9 Santa Clara women's soccer team survived an early-season test this afternoon, coming from behind to defeat San Jose State, 2-1, by scoring two goals in the last eight minutes of the game in front of 692 fans at Buck Shaw Stadium.
After a relatively uneventful first half, the Spartans nearly put a blemish on the Broncos' perfect all-time record of 14-0-0, now 15-0-0, against SJSU by scoring the game's first goal in the 75th minute. Katie Knopp capitalized on confusion in the Broncos back line, receiving Lauren Ng-Pinkerton's free-kick service relatively unchallenged and finishing to the lower right corner of the net. Santa Clara's junior goalkeeper Bianca Henninger got fingertips on the shot, but the strike was just far enough wide to where she could not keep it out of the back of the net.
"I was disappointed with our play in the first half," said head coach Jerry Smith. "I thought it was lackluster and we just didn't generate enough dangerous chances. The second half I felt like we played much better. Actually, midway through the first half we changed our formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and I thought that helped us kind of close out the first half, but it still wasn't good enough. The second half I was actually pretty pleased with how the game was going and then I thought we just had a lack of concentration on their free kick that led to their goal. Everyone looked around waiting for someone else to go to the ball and none of them did."
The Broncos were not without their chances, and easily could have scored the game's first goal. In the first half, a close offside call reversed a ball that beat Spartan goalkeeper Meghan Maiwald, and Maiwald also one-hand-punched a cross into her own crossbar while attempting to tip it over, but that was mostly it for any dangerous chances as Santa Clara outshot San Jose State, 4-2, with only one shot total on goal.
The final 45 minutes were a different story, as the Broncos fired off a total of 11 second-half shots, three of which Maiwald saved, but there were many more threatening crosses that the Spartan 'keeper was able to pick off or deflect away from danger.
In the 83rd minute, freshman Sarah Jackson finally broke the ice for Santa Clara, scoring her first collegiate goal to tie the game. Jackson took senior Anessa Patton's floating header pass under pressure near the 18-yard line and was able to beat her defender and touch it past an on-rushing Maiwald into the center of the goal.
With a potential loss staved off for the moment, the Broncos kept the foot on the gas pedal and scored the game-winning goal just about three minutes after the tying tally. Sophomore Lauren Matheson fed the ball to freshman Julie Johnston on the right flank, who then sent a bullet of a cross toward Patton. Patton, who was unmarked, jumped in the air and sent the waist-high ball into the net with the inside of her foot. The assist was Johnston's second this weekend, having also assisted on senior Maxine Goynes' goal against San Diego State.
"I think it's always good to get come-from-behind wins," said Smith. "We've had entire seasons with really good Santa Clara teams where we haven't managed a come-from-behind win in a season. To get one, it says a lot about this group, I think, really. I mean I'd like to not go down 1-0, but you go down 1-0 inside of 15 minutes in the game and you can pull out a win, we can really take a lot of momentum forward if we get into that situation again this year, so I'm really happy about that."
With the victory, Santa Clara improves to 2-0-0 on the season and will continue its 2010 campaign with its first road game on Friday, Aug. 27, taking on California in Berkeley at 4:00 p.m.