SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The No. 11 Santa Clara women's soccer team dropped its first conference game of the season today, falling, 1-0, to No. 2 Portland at home. The loss was the first at Buck Shaw Stadium this year for the Broncos, and brings them to 11-4-2 overall (4-1-0 WCC).
The Pilots controlled much of the play in the first half, but Santa Clara made some adjustments at halftime to take over the momentum of the game in the second half.
Portland had the first good scoring chance of the game, being awarded a free kick within the first four minutes of the match, but the Bronco wall blocked the attempt.
Klei had a dangerous chance later on in the game for the Broncos from inside the box on a square pass, but Pilot goalkeeper Hailee DeYoung slid at the ball and forced Klei to miss the opportunity for a shot.
With seconds to go before halftime, Santa Clara goalie Bianca Henninger came up with a big save for the Broncos, tipping Keelin Winters' try from 25 yards over the crossbar as time expired, sending the game into a scoreless tie at the break.
At the end of 45 minutes, Portland held the advantage in shots, 6-1, and corners, 5-1.
Midway through the second half, the Pilots committed a handball deep in their own territory. Sophomore Meleana Shim took the restart free kick from the right side and hit it in the net, but the goal was called back due to a foul in the box by Santa Clara.
With about 18 minutes to go, the Broncos nearly scored again. Olivia Klei hit a floated ball from the right side across the box, and senior Anessa Patton nearly bicycled kicked the ball in, but several Portland defenders and the goalkeeper were there to stop the ball from going across the goal line.
With 11:52 to go, a goal was finally scored. Portland's Kendall Johnson fed a wide-open Halley Kreminski from the left side for the jumping, inside-of-the-foot volley into the net.
Despite being scored on, Santa Clara fought right back. Moments after the kickoff, freshman Julie Johnston nearly scored on a half-volley from close to the end line, but earned the Broncos a corner when her wide attempt found Maxine Goynes and Goynes hit it off a defender and out of bounds. Shim's first corner attempt was cleared over the net by Portland. Her second corner kick found Johnston, who hit a shot bound for the side-netting but Taylor Brooke made the stop on the post to prevent the goal.
Santa Clara had several other looks on net towards the end of the match, but couldn't find a way to beat the Pilot defense. The Broncos outshot Portland, 7-3, in the second half, with the game total favoring the Pilots, 9-8. Henninger finished with three saves to DeYoung's two, but in addition smothered several Portland attacks throughout the game.
"I think it was a typical Santa Clara-Portland game today and with today's Portland win the series is now tied at 14 apiece," said head coach Jerry Smith. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and hats off to them today for great performance. It's disappointing to lose for sure and I thought we had, in the second half, several quality chances to score. I'd like to see why the goal we scored got called back. I'm not sure why it was, but we'll take a look on video this week."
"I thought outside of the goal that was called back we had several chances to score in the second half and they had one good chance to score and they finished it and that was the difference in the game. We have a few things to tighten up here and there, but I am proud of team and their effort. Taking on the No. 2 team in the country is not an easy task and we played them dead-even today and had great chance to get a win. Hopefully both of us will represent the conference very well in the NCAA tournament coming up."
Santa Clara will finish out its 2010 regular-season home schedule next weekend, taking on soon-to-be-conference opponent BYU on Thursday at 7 p.m., and conference opponent Loyola Marymount Sunday at 1 p.m. The Broncos will complete their season with their final WCC match at Pepperdine on Saturday, Nov. 6.