SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 11 Santa Clara women's soccer team rolled to its fourth conference victory of the season tonight, dispatching Gonzaga, 5-0, at home on the pitch of Buck Shaw Stadium. The Broncos improved to 11-3-2 overall and 4-0 in West Coast Conference play courtesy of senior Anessa Patton's fourth game-winning goal of the year.
The win sets up Sunday's nationally-televised match against Portland to be a showdown for first place in the WCC as the Pilots also remained undefeated and 4-0 in conference with a 1-0 win over San Diego on Friday night. Following Sunday's game, two conference games will remain on the schedule for each team.
Patton finished out the evening with five points; two goals and one assist. Her first goal, and game-winner, came just 7:30 into the first half. Sophomore Olivia Klei carried the ball up the left flank and dished it to senior Maxine Goynes. Goynes then passed to Patton near the penalty spot, and the Fresno, Calif. native fired off a shot that hit the far post and went in. Patton has now four goals in the last four games, scoring in three matches.
The Broncos' next goal was created by the same three players that created the first, only this time it was Goynes sticking it in the net. Klei once again brought the ball up the left flank and passed it to Patton. Patton found Goynes all alone in the box, who then roofed her finish into the upper part of the net at 24:15.
Patton scored her second goal of the game, and seventh of the year, in the 38th minute with another quality finish after collecting the ball from sophomore Lauren Matheson following a series of plays in which the ball had been pinballing between Bulldog defenders in the box.
After halftime, Santa Clara continued to attack the Gonzaga net, resulting in two more goals.
At 62:38, freshman Julie Johnston scored her second goal of the season, an easy finish on an empty net from the right side. Senior Kendra Perry was credited with the assist, her first point of the season, for serving a long ball that Goynes flicked on to Johnston, beating both a Zags defender and the charging goalkeeper. The assist was Goynes' fourth point of the game.
"I'm really happy for Maxine and Anessa," said head coach Jerry Smith. "I think they're really, at the end of their senior years, playing their best soccer and in every conference game they've made a major impact in front of the goal for us."
Klei picked up her third assist of the night on the Broncos' final goal in the 80th minute, scored by freshman Kelly Jenks. The goal was a result of a series of three shots; the first by Patton, which was saved by Bulldog goalkeeper Lauren Ames. Ames gave up the rebound to Klei, who shot the ball back towards the net but was denied by a Gonzaga defender. That rebound found its way to Jenks, who finished the ball for her second goal of the season.
Goalkeepers junior Bianca Henninger and redshirt freshman Alexis Rubattino shared time in the net, with Rubattino relieving Henninger with 19:30 left to play in the game. Henninger made two saves, one a point-blank half-volley from Catherine Cullen in the first half to preserve the team shutout. Rubattino also made two stops to keep the Broncos unscored upon in WCC play. Ames made six saves in her ninth loss of the season.
Santa Clara outshot Gonzaga, 20-11, in the match and held the edge in corners, 4-2.
"It was a feel-good game," said Smith. "Everything about it was good; it was out fourth consecutive shutout in conference, we scored five goals in one game, which was our best goal output of year, a lot of people played…20 different players saw the field, we took no additional injuries which is really key, and Lexi Rubattino saw her first college minutes. Everything about it was real positive for us."
The battle for the top spot in the conference between the Broncos and Pilots (16-1-0) will begin at noon on Sunday on ESPNU.
"Sunday's match is obviously a big game for us," said Smith. "Every year it's a game that often decides the conference champion and it may in fact do so again this year. It will be a battle of the two top teams in conference and nationally-televised and we're real happy that we're playing the game at home where we are an undefeated 7-0. It should be a typical SCU-Portland rivalry-battle, tight game. It will give us a good idea of where we are at end of season. The idea is to improve over the course of the season and earlier in the year we played some top-5 teams. We played well in those games, but not well enough to get the victories. This Sunday will be an opportunity to see if we've improved enough to be considered a top-5 team."