Action photos from the game! (Credit Denis Concordel)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara University (6-1-4) put on a display of versatility and depth as they topped Nevada (2-10-0) 3-0. The No. 17 Broncos used 21 players in their victory, many for the majority of the second half. With depth being a point of strength coming into the season, no one put this on display as well as Molly Mettler. Mettler got the start in goal in place of injured All-American Bianca Henninger and ended up with an impressive six saves.
"One thing that this game showed is that our reserves are ready to come in and play when called upon," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith. "We took our starters off the field a little earlier than we normally do but I thought the reserves did a very nice job and played very well. I know they're disappointed they didn't score some goals with the opportunities we had in the second half but I feel very confident about our entire roster being able to go in and make a positive contribution and today was an example of that."
The scoring started in the fourth minute when Cate Parchinski tapped the ball in front of the goal and reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Week Julie Johnston was able to make solid contact and put the ball past the goalkeeper. The goal was the sixth of the year for Johnston, tops on the Santa Clara roster, and gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead.
Sophia Huerta dribbled the ball into the Nevada box and was on the attack when she was tripped up by a defender. On the resulting penalty shot Meleana Shim rocketed her shot to the back of the net to put Santa Clara up 2-0 in the ninth minute.
Less than two minutes later Shim was at it again. She took a ball and dribbled to the top of the penalty box where she fired a shot that again beat the goalkeeper for her second goal on the game. The goal put Santa Clara up by a score of 3-0.
Nevada's first good shot at getting a goal on the board occurred with 15 seconds left in the first half when Santa Clara committed a foul in the box. Annabelle Allen took the shot but it hit off the right post and the Wolfpack could not come up with a rebound.
In the second half the Broncos slowed down the pace of the game and got many of their reserves onto the field. Despite chances to lengthen the lead Santa Clara settled for a 3-0 victory.
"One emphasis we've had in the last couple games is to have a no fear attitude in the attacking third. We had been stressing as a coaching staff, "keep the ball better' and we hadn't clarified for the team that that doesn't mean in the attacking zone and we caught ourselves trying to be a possession team in the attacking zone," said Smith about the offense coming to life. "The only two games where we've had no fear have been the last two and I think that has to do with our goal production. I think we're also holding the ball better in the middle third which is allowing our outside backs to get forward. In both games we've had outside backs make key attacking plays that led to goals. We can only get our outside backs into position to attack if we do a good enough job holding the ball long enough for them to get there. I think it has been a combination of both those things that has led to the goal scoring."
Santa Clara returns to the field for its last non-conference game Sun., Oct. 2 at 2:30 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with men's soccer. The women will play San Diego State while the men will play WCC-rival Gonzaga.