SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Looking to bounce back after a tough weekend vs. two top-10 teams, Santa Clara women's soccer will play its home-opener on Thurs., Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. vs. Long Beach State and travel to Fresno State on Sat., Aug. 31 for a 7 p.m. game. Last weekend Santa Clara dropped two games at the Klockner Classic hosted by the University of Virginia to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 8 Virginia. The Broncos are 0-2-0 on the young season.
"Both the players and coaches learned a lot last weekend," said Bronco head coach Jerry Smith. "We knew scheduling this weekend had a little bit of a risk in the sense that we were out of our comfort zones in a lot of ways. We learned we needed to do a much better job of supporting the person with the ball and maintaining possession. We didn't have enough sustained attacks and we need to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We will take a lot of the positives away from the weekend and work on where we had trouble."
Sofia Huerta and Brittany Ambrose who each had two shots led Santa Clara's offense. Huerta landed both shots on goal while Ambrose had one shot on goal. Dani Weatherholt also put a shot on goal while Ashley Doyle, Morgan Marlborough, and Sarah Jackson each attempted one shot. Marlborough was making her Bronco debut after transferring from Nebraska while Doyle, Jenna Roering, Morgan Brown, Julie Vass, and Jordan Jesolva all made their collegiate debut.
"The most important things we hope to see this weekend are rhythm of attack and off the ball movement," said Smith. "We didn't do close to well enough over the weekend in either category. We will be talking a lot about those two areas in training this week. We need longer attacks whether they always lead to dangerous chances or not. If you're constantly giving the ball away your back line has to grind and that leads to balls in your net. Our defending is in a pretty good spot so our emphasis this week will be keeping the ball."
Long Beach State enters the week with a record of 0-1-0 after dropping its season-opener 1-0 to Northern Arizona at home. Santa Clara is 2-0-0 all-time vs. the 49ers. Last year the Broncos took down Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 2-1.
The 49ers offense was led by Eileen Maes who had four shots, including one on goal, in the first game of the year. Mimi Rangel and Taylor Nelson each attempted two shots while Ashley Webb, Hannah Sanders, and Elizabeth Lyons all had one shot on goal. As a team Long Beach State outshot Northern Arizona 13-4 and 4-1 in shots on goal. Ashton McKeown played all 90 minutes in goal and allowed the lone goal of the match without making any saves.
"Long Beach State is a very tough team and we were able to beat them in the NCAA Tournament last year," said Smith. "Anytime you have a chance to play the team that knocked you out of the tournament, you have a little extra motivation. They are also very well coached and a talented team."
The Broncos are looking forward to the added boost of playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season.
"We are definitely looking forward to playing at home," said Smith. "Playing in environments like we did last weekend help you grow. Thursday we get to be in our comfort zone. We know our field very well and we'll have our fans behind us. The home field advantage will give us an extra boost which is something we're looking forward to."
Fresno State begins the week 0-2-0 after falling at UC Santa Barbara 2-0 and at Cal State Fullerton 1-0 over the weekend. The Broncos are 5-0-0 all-time vs. Fresno State. The last meeting was a 3-2 overtime win for Santa Clara at Buck Shaw in 2012.
The Bulldogs were outshot 31-15 and 10-4 on the first weekend of the season. Morgan Castain led the offense with five shots while Megan Mossman fired three shots and landed a team-high two on goal. Jaycee Bingham and Alyssa Holsworth each added one shot on goal apiece. Katie Devault played all 180 minutes in net and picked up seven saves while allowing three goals.