SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After taking down Long Beach State 2-1 in the first round, No. 18 Santa Clara women's soccer will take on No. 1 Stanford at Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Fri., Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.
The Broncos opened the season with a loss at Stanford but head coach Jerry Smith and his team feel that this game will be very different than the start of the season back in August.
"I think this will be a very different game and that is only because we're 20 games into the season now," Smith. "We didn't have Sofia or Julie last time so that changes things and we're 20 games smarter as coaches now. I think it will be a much tighter game this time around."
Even though Santa Clara expects the game to be different, it knows that Stanford is still the top team in the country and as a team it must take care of the things it can control.
"When you play a number one team like Stanford I think everything has to go well for you," added Smith. "Every aspect of what you do has to be solid. They've proven that if you make a mistake they'll punish you for it. In order to play to our ability, our players have to have the right game plan, which I think we've given them. They also have to manage their emotions. I've coached in a lot of NCAA tournament games and it's about not getting ahead of yourself. If you start to think about the result at all, it will cost you and you have to just think about the task at hand. So many things have to go well for you when you play a team as good as Stanford that you can't let your mind drift."
With a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line, it can be tempting to look past a team, even one as good as Stanford. Smith has coached in 23 NCAA tournaments and is keeping the team focused on taking the tournament one game at a time.
"We remind them of past NCAA tournaments where they ended the year sooner than they wanted," continued Smith. "Last year was a good example vs. Cal. We only managed a tie and went out in penalty kicks so I think everyone still remembers the feeling they had about getting knocked out. You remind them that if you do get ahead of yourself, it's not going to help you perform in that moment and if you do that, you have a chance of ending the season earlier than you want to. We'll give them reminders about how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand."
The Broncos have blown away opponents in shot attempts this year 369-222 with a 163-109 edge in shots on goal. Santa Clara has scored 36 goals while allowing just 24 while also collecting 117 corner kicks to opponents' 72.
Julie Johnston, named a Prime-Time Performer by CollegeSoccer360.com this week, leads the team in goals (8) and points (21) while placing second in assists (5). Sofia Huerta paces the team in assists with six and is second in both goals (6) and points (18). Senior captain Lauren Matheson has found the back of the net a career-high five times and has added two assists while Dani Weatherholt has scored four times and added two assists. In all, 11 Broncos have at least one goal and nine have at least one assist. In goal, freshman Andi Tostanoski has a 1.10 GAA and a .768 save percentage. She has made 73 saves and recorded seven shutouts.
Stanford, the defending national champions, enter the match with an overall record of 18-1-1 with the only loss coming vs. West Virginia on August 26 by a final of 1-0. The very next game, on August 31, the Cardinal tied No. 7 Boston College 1-1. The Pac-12 champions have taken down seven ranked teams including No. 17 Santa Clara, No. 6 Penn State on the road 3-2, #23 Georgetown 6-0, No. 15 San Diego State 1-0, No. 23 Oregon State 5-1, No. 2 UCLA 2-1 on the road and No. 23 Cal in Berkeley by a final of 1-0.
The Cardinal have dominated opponents in 2012, outscoring them 52-12 and outshooting them 367-177 with a 142-80 edge in shots on goal. They have also received 109 corner kicks while allowing just 54.
Courtney Verloo leads the team with eight goals and is tied for the team-lead with nine assists. Her 25 points is also tops on the team. Chioma Ubogagu has also added nine assists while scoring four times. The Cardinal have a very balanced offensive attack with five players scoring five or more goals and 12 players scoring at least once. Most of the goalkeeper duties have been split between Emily Oliver and Aly Gleason. Oliver has a 0.47 GAA while making 38 saves with a .884 save percentage. She is 12-0-0 with four shutouts to her record. Gleason has a 0.74 GAA and has made 26 saves while collecting two shutouts with a .812 save percentage.