SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Riding a six-game winning streak and looking to stay perfect in conference action, No. 11 Santa Clara women's soccer, tied for first in the West Coast Conference, hosts San Francisco on Sun., Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. in the lone game of the week. Last week the Broncos took down Saint Mary's 4-0 and Pacific 2-0 on the road to move their conference record to 4-0-0. Overall Santa Clara is 10-3-1 and has lost just once since the opening weekend of the season.
"We are very pleased with our start to conference play," said Smith. "We would love to have all shutouts but then again these good teams are going to manage a goal off you every now and again, and BYU did. In the USD game we only scored one goal. The thing we want to look at is if we create enough opportunities to score goals. If not then that would be concerning but we did so we have to give some level of credit to what USD did defensively in front of their own goal. We created enough chances and we needed to finish a little bit better."
Even with a perfect start to WCC action the Broncos are continuing to work had to improve areas that they have no excelled in.
"One of the things we are working on this week is better movement off the ball," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "Against teams that play a 4-2-3-1 system which USF normally does, we are struggling with how to free up player. That system matches up pretty well against us. We are looking at different ways of freeing up players rather than have this log jam of two teams matched up identically and so we are trying to get creative with our off the ball movement. That will be our major emphasis in training this week."
Another emphasis for Smith and the Broncos will be putting more shots on goal. This has been a goal of the team since the start of the season and something that has caused some problems recently.
"One of the additional things that we are continuing to work on is to increase our shots on goal percentage," continued Smith. "Even though we scored two at Pacific, we managed 15 or 16 shots but only managed to get six on goal. If we look at our shot percentage against San Diego, that was also low. So we want to definitely increase and create movement off the ball. The second thing we are working on is when we do get ourselves in the goal scoring position, at least put the shots on goal and force saves. In the Pacific game we didn't do that as much as we'd like to. And at the USD game we didn't do that as much as we'd like to. Those two things will be an attacking emphasis going forward."
With just one game this week, Santa Clara has a chance to rest players while also allowing the team to focus on things they normally don't have the time to perfect.
"I think anytime you only have one game on the week, there are several things you can do," said Smith. "You can rest up your banged up bodies and at this time of the year we have plenty of those. When you can get a cushion between games, you can really dive into some things that you normally don't have time during the week to work on. For example, situational things like end of match tactics. The last time we were down a goal late in a match was against Cal and that was some time ago so we haven't had a chance in any of our matches to try and come from behind late. It would be great to play the whole season and not have to address it because you are never behind but the reality in playing in the NCAA tournament or some of the upcoming conference matches that we have, you could face that situation and you need to be prepared for that. So this gives us a little bit of extra time to work on that as well as rest some of the injured bodies."
The Broncos are 28-0-1 all-time against the Dons. Last season the teams tied 2-2 in San Francisco. It was the only time Santa Clara has played San Francisco and not come away with a win. Paige Robertson and Allie Vernon each had one goal for Santa Clara in that game.
Santa Clara has outscored opponents 30-14 and outshot teams 244-159 including 112-80 in shots on goal. The 30 goals scored leads the WCC while the 244 shots is second, one behind Pepperdine. The Broncos have dominated the first half but outscoring foes 19-6 while winning the second half 10-7. Santa Clara also has a conference-high seven shutouts.
Julie Johnston leads the team and is second in the WCC with nine goals and 22 points. Johnston also leads the Broncos with four assists, which ties her for the conference lead. Sofia Huerta is second on the team with seven goals and has two assists for 16 points. Morgan Marlborough has found the back of the net five times and has three helpers for 13 points. Jordan Jesolva and Dani Weatherholt each have two goals while five other Broncos have scored one goal each. Sarah Jackson and Julie Vass are tied with Marlborough for second on the team with three assists each while Alyssa Kleiner has two. Four other Santa Clara players have one assist apiece. Andi Tostanoski has made 0.96 GAA and 66 saves. Her .835 save percentage and five shutouts are both good for second in the conference.
San Francisco enters the week with a 5-7-3 record and a 0-3-1 mark in WCC play. The Dons have been outscored 15-9 and outshot 192-164, including 80-68 in shots on goal. Last week San Francisco played just one game and tied Pacific 1-1.
Lexie Krueger leads the Dons with three goals and six points while no other San Francisco player has more than one goal. Seven Dons are tied with one assist each, four of which have also scored a goal to tie for second on the team with three points. Madalyn Schiffel has played every minute in net and has a 0.95 GAA. Schiffel has made 65 saves for a .812 save percentage while picking up five shutouts.