SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Ready to open the 2013 season, No. 16 Santa Clara women's soccer travels back East to the Klockner Classic hosted by the University of Virginia. Santa Clara will play No. 1 North Carolina, the defending national champions, on Fri., Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. Pacific and will wrap-up the weekend vs. host No. 8 Virginia on Sun., Aug. 25 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. Santa Clara finished 2012 with a record of 12-4-6 and 4-1-3 in West Coast Conference play.
"The opening weekend always gives you a gauge on how well you have prepared during the summer and preseason," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, entering his 27th season leading the Broncos. "If you have weaknesses, teams like North Carolina and Virginia will expose them. We will also find out how together the team is because they will face some adversity. We need to find out how the team deals with that adversity. We'll find out a lot about our team this weekend and see what we need to work on before the NCAA Tournament."
Playing two teams that could make the College Cup in the same weekend is not a coincidence.
"Every year we try to use a weekend to simulate the Final Four," continued Smith. "As it turns out, our opening weekend is our Final Four situations. We'll be testing ourselves and see what we can learn from this trip.
North Carolina finished 2012 with a record of 15-5-3. The Broncos are 4-15-0 all-time vs. the Tar Heels with the last meeting coming in 2004. Santa Clara won the Sweet 16 matchup 1-0. The last regular season meeting came in 1999 at the Duke Tournament where the Broncos won 1-0. The biggest Santa Clara win was a 1-0 win over No. 1 North Carolina in the 2001 national title game.
"Anytime you have a chance to play North Carolina or the national champions, in this case one and the same, it's always a fun challenge," said Smith. "Their last game was the national championship game so it fits in well with one of our core values. That is to embrace the opportunity for growth and success so we're looking forward to the opportunity."
Virginia was 18-5-1 in 2012, making it to the Sweet 16 before falling to Duke 3-1. Santa Clara is 2-3-1 all-time vs. Virginia with the last meeting coming in 2007. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
"Virginia is a top-10 team with a great coaching staff," said Smith. "When preparing for a Friday-Sunday weekend, you hope you play teams that are somewhat similar so your Friday preparation can at least somewhat carry over to Sunday. This weekend is not that case at all. Both teams are terrific but play very different styles. We'll have to make a quick change in our preparing from Friday to Sunday. Make no mistake about it, Virginia is as talented, if not more talented, than North Carolina, so it will be two great matches."
Santa Clara outscored opponents 37-26 in 2012 and outshot teams 382-236. Santa Clara scored 16 first half goals to opponents eight but the second half was much tighter, 19-18.
Despite missing the first seven games of the year while winning the U-20 World Cup as captain of the U.S. squad in 2012, Julie Johnston led the team in goals with eight and points with 21 thanks to adding five assists. She added three game-winners, including the overtime-winner in a 1-0 victory over CSU Northridge at Buck Shaw on Sept. 21.
Johnston saw the awards pile-up in 2012. She was named U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year, was a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Semi-Finalist, was named a First-Team All-American, got her first cap with the U.S. National Team, was named one of Glamour Magazine's Top-10 Collegiate Women, was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Year, a All-West Region First-Team selection and was First-Team All-WCC.
Sofia Huerta missed the team's first five games while playing for Mexico on the U-20 World Cup but still led the Broncos in assists with six. She also placed second on the team with six goals and 18 points. Huerta added two game-winners and was named First-Team All-WCC and All-West Region Second-Team.
Dani Weatherholt tied for third with five goals and chipped in two assists. She scored one game-winner while totaling 12 points. Weatherholt scored the lone Bronco goal in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Stanford.
Other returners with points include: Sarah Jackson (two goals, three assists, seven points), Katie Speidel (one goal, two assists, four points), Paige Robertson (two goals, four points) and Allie Vernon (one goal, two points).
Sophomore Andi Tostanoski looks to improve on her strong freshman season that saw her named to the WCC All-Freshman Team. In 20 games started, Tostanoski had a 1.14 GAA while recording seven shutouts. She made 79 saves, good for a .767 save percentage.
One of the biggest additions to the team will be Morgan Marlborough who will play her senior season at Santa Clara after transferring from Nebraska in 2011 and sitting out 2012 due to NCAA transfer rules. Marlborough was a 2010 All-American and has collected many awards. She has twice scored 20+ goals (21 in 2009, 20 in 2011) and just missed as a sophomore (19). Her scoring prowess has Smith excited.
The Broncos did lose several key players from 2012 including Lauren Matheson who scored five goals and added three assists while playing in all 22 games. Meleana Shim and Olivia Klei each scored three times. Shim added one assist while Klei had three. In all, Santa Clara lost 12 of the team's 37 goals and seven of the team's 27 assists.
North Carolina outscored opponents 55-17 in 2012 while outshooting foes 408-179. The Tar Heels outscored teams 16-10 in the first half but dominated the second half 37-7.
Crystal Dunn, who missed six games in 2012 while playing with Johnston on the U-20 World Cup team, is the top returner for the Tar Heels. Dunn scored five goals and had five assists. Her 15 points was sixth on the team and third among returning players. Dunn added one game-winning goal on the season.
Kealia Ohai also missed the team's first six games do the U-20 World Cup but still led the team with nine goals and 23 points while chipping in five assists. Ohai was tied for second on the team with two game-winners.
Summer Green had a terrific freshman season after returning from U-17 national team commitments. Green scored tied for second on the team with seven goals and eight assists. Her 22 points was also second on the team. She had two game-winning goals in 2012.
The Cavaliers outscored opponents 66-21 while outshooting them 453-209. Like North Carolina, Virginia blew games open in the second half, outscoring opponents 41-13 after the break.
Makenzy Doniak is the Cavaliers' top returning goal-scorer. Doniak scored 10 goals, second on the team, in 2012 while adding eight assists. Her 28 points was also second on the team. She scored three game-winners.
Danielle Colaprico started 18 of 24 games while scoring five goals and adding a team-high nine assists. She placed third on the team with 19 points and scored one game-winning goal.
Morgan Brian missed nine games while at the U-20 World Cup but came back to scored four goals and add seven assists. Her 15 points was tied for fifth on the team and she had one game-winner.
Kate Norbo had 16 points on six goals and four assists while Kaili Torres made her presence felt off the bench. Torres started just four of 24 games played but scored five goals and had five assists. Gloria Douglas added five goals and four assists in 24 games, including seven starts.
Danielle DeLisle played in all 24 games for Virginia last season and made 22 starts. The goalkeeper allowed 17 goals for a 0.85 GAA while making 50 saves. DeLisle had a .746 save percentage while picking up six shutouts on the year.