SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 10 Santa Clara women's soccer team (7-1-2) remained unbeaten in its last six games and improved its current win streak to three, defeating Oregon, 2-1, tonight at Buck Shaw Stadium. Junior defender Margueritte Aozasa found the net for the first time this season, scoring both goals for the Broncos, one in each half.
It was all Santa Clara early in the match. Aozasa put the Broncos up early with her first goal in the ninth minute on the team's third corner kick of the game. Bridgett Miller got her third point of the season with an assist, serving the ball to Aozasa near the penalty spot. Aozasa rose above a pair of Duck defenders to head the ball past Oregon goalkeeper Cody Miles.
It would be 25 minutes into the game by the time the Ducks were able to register a shot, hit by Jen Stoltenberg, but the try was blocked. Oregon's first attempt on net came at 34:05 and was saved by junior goalie Bianca Henninger. At that point, Santa Clara already had four shots and six corner kicks in the match.
The Broncos continued their recent trend of scoring near halftime, with Aozasa's second goal occurring at 49:03. This time, freshman Sarah Jackson's corner kick service bypassed a few players from both teams close to the near post and bounced to Aozasa, who finished the half volley from around six yards out for the 2-0 lead.
"Well, funny story on Margueritte's goals," said head coach Jerry Smith. "We of course do our individual meetings with the players almost every week, and in my individual meeting with Margueritte this week I said, 'If I'm going to continue to invest on sending a center back up on corner kicks, you're going to have to start producing some points and goal for us.' She's a good header of the ball, but it is quite a risk to take one of your best defensive players and put them all the way at the front of your team. Coincidentally, at the end of the week, she gets both goals on corner kicks so good for her. I'm really happy for her and feel good about her stepping up on something very specific we talked about in our individual meeting this week."
Stoltenberg, the Ducks' leading scorer this season, halved Santa Clara's less than five minutes after Aozasa's second strike with a textbook finish of her own, taking Taylor Jones' over-the-top ball and niftily footing it into the left corner out of Henninger's reach.
The Broncos rebounded back immediately after the goal, rattling off three shots within five minutes of Oregon's tally. One of those attempts by redshirt senior Amanda Poach was saved by Miles, but not held on to and nearly found its way into the goal on the rebound.
At the end of 90 minutes, the score remained 2-1 in favor of Santa Clara. The Broncos were outshot by Oregon 12-9, but made the most of their dangerous chances for the victory. Henninger finished with three saves while Miles had two.
"They [Oregon] have a good counterattacking team," said Smith. "They're quick, they're athletic they work very hard. I'm always a little nervous playing a team that only has one game on the weekend when we have two. We have to manage our total minutes for our two games and they just throw everything at you because they know that they get a week off. I thought they looked very dynamic on counterattack today and created some good chances but I thought our team overall did a fairly good job defensively on Stoltenberg and their entire team."
"I'm really happy that all 18 players that we used in the match contributed today," added Smith. "We used a lot of our depth today after getting some players back from injury, but we took an injury today in the first half, unfortunately, and we'll have to wait and see how serious Jenny LaPonte's injury is. Having those 18 players contribute today helps save some of our energy for the Sunday game against UCLA which will obviously be a big test for us."
Santa Clara wraps up this weekend with a match at UCLA on Sunday at 1 p.m. The No. 15 Bruins are 6-2-1 and defeated San Diego, 2-0, earlier this evening.