SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Looking to build on last season's top-20 campaign, Santa Clara women's soccer announced its 2012 schedule Friday. After playing in the program's 23rd NCAA Tournament in 2011, Santa Clara will continue to compete against an impressive list of the nation's top teams in non-conference play, starting with defending national champion Stanford on the road on Aug. 17, before opening up WCC play at BYU on Oct. 5. The Broncos will report for practices on July 31.
"Each year we try to put together the most challenging non-conference schedule we can," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith who is entering his 25th season on the Mission campus. "This year we did a great job in the sense that we open up with the national champion Stanford and take on several top-25 NCAA Tournament teams in our non-conference schedule. We'll have a few players unavailable to us at that time of the year due to the U-20 World Cup so it's going to be a real challenge for us at the beginning of the year. Even after we get our players back, it will take a little while for them to integrate into how we're doing things here."
Smith knows that scheduling tough non-conference opponents is key to setting up the team for a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
"We're looking forward to the challenging schedule we have because it will provide our players the chance to step-up and prove themselves," continued Smith. "Before we get into the conference season we will be able to look at everything we need to look at and feel like we have a very strong team going into WCC play."
Right out of the gate the Broncos will be challenged as they will visit defending national champion Stanford to open the season on Aug. 17. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network. Each of the last two seasons the Cardinal have beaten Santa Clara, including a 2-0 win at Buck Shaw last season. Six days later Santa Clara will travel to Cal to take on a Golden Bears team that knocked the Broncos out of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on penalty kicks.
After opening the home portion of its schedule vs. UC Riverside on Aug. 26, Santa Clara travel to South Bend, Ind. to take part in the Notre Dame Tournament vs. the hosting Fighting Irish and Connecticut. Notre Dame won the national championship in 2010 and played to a 1-1 tie with Santa Clara at Buck Shaw in 2011.
The Broncos conference schedule will start on at BYU on Oct. 5 and will see Santa Clara traveling to Pepperdine, USF and Saint Mary's. LMU will open the home conference slate for Santa Clara on Oct. 12 and Nov. 1 vs. Portland will serve as senior day at Buck Shaw. The regular season will wrap-up Nov. 3 at Saint Mary's.
"The WCC is always a grind and it was the third-toughest conference in the country last year," said Smith. "You have regular NCAA tournament teams and the teams that don't necessarily go to the tournament every year have continued to improve. I think the top-end of our conference is as good as it has ever been and teams that are in the middle of the conference are really challenging the top teams. The teams that are towards the bottom of the conference have become very tough games, especially on the road. I think the young players will have to learn how tough the conference road games are going to be. However, I think our tough non-conference schedule will help us prepare for the grind of WCC play."
Get your tickets today! Season tickets for all 11 home games start at $55 for adults and $38.50 for youth and seniors. The SCU athletic department is also offering a season ticket 'Family Plan,' which includes five tickets to every home game for just $100.
Fans can purchase tickets online (www.SantaClaraBroncos.com/buytickets), over the phone at 408-554-4660 or by visiting the SCU Ticket Office, located at The Leavey Center, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara campus, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.