SANTA CLARA, Calif. – After winning a share of the 10th West Coast Conference title in program history, No. 8 Santa Clara women's soccer will host Cal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Sat., Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium. This is the third consecutive year the Broncos will host the first round of the NCAA Tournament and the 24th tournament in program history.
Tickets will be $10 for general admission and $7 for students, children and senior citizens. The first 150 Ruff Riders will be given free admittance.
"Being one of the seeded teams means the NCAA recognizes you as one of the top-16 teams in the country so it's nice to have that recognition," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "We are thrilled about playing at home this weekend and we have a chance to host down the line. We've had years where we were the three or four seed and we hosted the quarterfinals because the high seeds got knocked out. It's nice to have that in our back pocket. The key in the NCAA Tournament is to truly take every game as a one-game season. With that being said, this is about Cal and our matchup. We need to be the best team we can be on Saturday so we'll be working extremely hard in training this week."
The Broncos received an automatic bid the to NCAA Tournament by winning a share of the WCC title with their 6-3 win at Gonzaga on Nov. 9. Santa Clara finished the season 14-4-1 overall and 8-1-0 in conference action. It was the Broncos' first conference title since 2006 and the 10th in program history.
"We're thrilled to win the WCC championship this year," said Smith. "We're sharing the title this year but there's no one in our conference that finished ahead of us. You want to be a good team and focus on your performance but it's another thing to win enough to capture the title. We did enough to do that and that will pay dividends down the line. No one can take away that accomplishment."
Smith also had kind words for the two teams that the Broncos shared the title with.
"We congratulate BYU and Portland for advancing to the NCAA Tournament and sharing the conference title with us," said Smith. "We feel the three of us will be great representatives of the WCC in our tournament runs.
The Broncos blew away the WCC with 57 goals, 151 points and 355 shots. The next closest totals were 38, 114 and 324, respectively. Santa Clara's 3.00 goals per game gave it the second-best scoring offense in the country, behind No. 1 Virginia. Santa Clara was also second in the conference with 37 assists, just one behind the conference leader. The 22 goals allowed by the team was third in the conference and Santa Clara tied for the most shutouts in the conference with nine.
A trio of dominant offensive players leads Santa Clara. Morgan Marlborough led the conference with 14 goals and 33 points whole adding five assists. Sofia Huerta was second in the WCC with 13 goals, six assists and 32 points while Julie Johnston was third in goals with 12 and points with 31 while also leading the conference with seven assists. Freshman Jordan Jesolva added five goals and two assists while Sarah Jackson had three goals and four assists. Andi Tostanoski had a 1.19 GAA, third in the WCC, with 85 saves. She picked up a .802 save percentage and six shutouts, good for second in the conference.
"It's going to be a tough match against Cal for sure, but one we're looking forward to," said Smith. "Cal is a team that is built on defending first. They'll try to match us up defensively and they are very deep and athletic. Our challenge will be to break down a team like that. It's always a tight game with Cal and it will be again this year. It will be important for us to score the two or three goals we know we're capable of scoring."
Cal finished the regular season 11-4-5 overall and 5-1-2 in the Pac-12. The Bears were 4-3-3 on the road this season. Cal finished the season in fifth place in its conference but ended the season on a high-not, beating Washington 1-0 on the road and topping No. 10 Stanford in Palo Alto 1-0 in overtime.
The Bears outscored opponents 32-17 and outshot teams 287-263 with a 144-109 advantage in shots on goal. Ifeoma Onumonu led the team with eight goals and added three assists for a team-high 19 points. Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Samantha Witteman and Rachel Mericik each added six goals while Fitzpatrick led the team with six assists and Witteman was second with four. Emily Kruger made 73 and had a 0.73 GAA in net. Kruger had a .849 save percentage and three shutouts.