(Photo to the right: the women were allowed to wear costumes to their last Spring practice. Pretty creative ladies!)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Posting a perfect 5-0 record, Santa Clara women's soccer outscored its opponents 20-4 this spring on the way to its second consecutive undefeated spring season. The Broncos will take a break from the soccer field before pre-season practice begins again in August.
The spring season was very successful with wins over 2011 NCAA Tournament participant Cal, the semi-professional Sacramento Storm, San Jose State, defending NCAA champion Stanford and Fresno State.
With the goal several goals stated at the beginning of spring practice, Santa Clara was happy with more than just its perfect spring record.
"We can take away several things from our spring season," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, who will enter his 25th season in 2012. "Even though you are working on things and you're experimenting, every time you are out there you are trying to win a game and I think we accomplished nearly all of the objectives that we set out for ourselves this spring."
After last season's seven ties, Smith stressed the importance of scoring at least two goals in every match. In those seven ties the Broncos scored one or zero goals each time.
"We won all of our games, we didn't concede many goals and we certainly scored a lot of goals," said Smith. "At the same time we have a couple of different systems of play now that we are comfortable in, not just one and we established some new leaders in our program, which is another thing we try to do in the spring season. We built a very good foundation from which to build toward our fall season during the spring."
Even though the coaching staff was optimistic about the team heading into the spring, some players showed abilities that will be able to help the team come fall.
"Last fall we didn't play much of a two front system and we didn't play Katie Speidel as a center forward at all and she had a very good Spring season, scoring several goals for us and showing she is really dangerous in front of the goal," continued Smith.
Perhaps the biggest job for Santa Clara will be replacing graduating senior goalkeeper Bianca Henninger. Henninger was a First-Team All-American in 2010 and a Third-Team selection on 2011. In 2011 Henninger was also named the West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year. On Jan. 14 Henninger was selected by the Philadelphia Independence in the Women's Professional Soccer draft.
"We also have a battle for the goal keeper spot," said Smith. "Molly (Mettler) and Lexi (Rubattino) both played well. I think we went into the spring season feeling like Molly had the advantage and now I think its just a real dog fight."
Smith knows that the team also has depth on the roster, something that is important when injuries inevitably strike. The roster depth will be a big component in helping the Broncos try to reach their 24th NCAA Tournament and 11th Final Four.
"What you want from a coaching stand point is for every spot on the field to have competition and we certainly do have that," added Smith. "We feel that we are going to have depth in every position and again, from a coaching standpoint, that drives players to be really focused and work harder and not take things for granted. When you have that culture, everybody gets better and the team gets better and I think we all know that and we're excited about it."
Now the Broncos will take a little time away from the soccer field to rest both physically and mentally.
"We'll get out there once or twice a week and do some light ball work, but I think the bodies are worn down. We need to spend some time recovering and taking care of our bodies," said Smith. "We decided to end our spring season a month earlier than we did last year so that we could let our students enjoy the college experience. In a program like ours you have to be focused and intense every day and to not have to do that and really focus more on other things that Santa Clara University offers in terms of a college experience is our No. 1 priority. Right now I feel we need a little mental break as well as a physical break and then we will start the strength and conditioning after finals are over before a pretty short summer."