Oct. 18, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - When legendary Hall of Fame baseball player Ernie Banks uttered his famous catch phrase "let's play two," he wasn't talking about Santa Clara versus San Francisco men's soccer.
This week, however, there isn't a better way to celebrate the 39-year old rivalry between the two programs than to play two matches on each team's home turf.
Santa Clara at USF, 7 p.m.
Advance tickets to Saturday's match at Santa Clara are available by calling 408/554-4660 or by clicking here. Both matches will feature live Gametracker and audio coverage via SantaClaraBroncos.com.
Santa Clara enters Thursday's match with a 10-3 overall record and is at the top of the West Coast Conference table with a 4-1 showing. San Francisco has a 6-4-2 mark and a 2-2-1 record in league play.
The Broncos have won six of their last seven matches and have registered five shutouts during that period. Last weekend Santa Clara blanked both its opponents at home, knocking off Portland by a 3-0 margin then defeating Gonzaga 1-0.
Junior Keith DeVey, who started at the midfield position for the injured Erik Ustruck last weekend, continues to be the team's scoring leader with six goals and 15 points. However, senior forwards Kelechi Igwe and Hector Guzman are rapidly catching up with 10 points apiece.
Guzman, a native of San Jose, Costa Rica, was named the WCC Player of the Week after scoring two of his four goals this season in Friday's win over Portland. Five of his seven career goals have been for game-winners.
The Broncos lead the WCC and rank ninth nationally in win-loss-tie percentage (.769) and are 15th in shutout percentage (0.54). Offensively, Santa Clara is the league's leader in goals with an average of 2.00 per game, while the Dons are the WCC's defensive leader with a 0.75 per game goals against average.
"The Santa Clara/San Francisco rivalry is a vibrant one, to say the least, and I expect this week's games to be very competitive," said SCU head coach Cameron Rast, who owns a 12-3-1 record against USF as a Bronco player, assistant and head coach. "We know each other so well. The coaching staffs are close both professionally and socially and many of the players from the two teams competed against each other in club and high school. It certainly gets intense on the field, but afterwards we always shake hands and resume our good-natured relationship"
While San Francisco has a healthy edge in the series record between the two teams (the Dons lead 28-14-6), the Broncos have held the upper hand in recent years. Until last year's 1-0 upset victory by USF at Negoesco Stadium, Santa Clara had won 10-straight matches, dating back to the 1995 season.
There are a number of memorable moments in the series, but the first that comes to mind for Rast was his record at home against USF as a player. He lost just once at Buck Shaw Stadium during his sparkling time as an All-American at SCU... 1-0 his freshman season in 1988 The Broncos went on a 43-match home unbeaten streak after that, won the 1989 national title and advanced to two NCAA title matches.
In 1991, Santa Clara was 12-0, ranked No. 1 and had outscored its opponents 44-6 before it lost a 3-0 decision at San Francisco. The Broncos went on to tie Stanford three days later and ended-up not losing again that season and tied Virginia in the NCAA championship game but lost the national title 3-1 in penalty kicks.
There are also a number of other similarities between the two programs. Santa Clara's coaching staff of Rast, Eric Yamamoto and Rusty Johnson are all SCU grads. Dons head coach Erik Visser and his assistant Josh McKay both attended San Francisco.
SCU's Igwe, a senior from Belmont, Calif., is the son of Tony Igwe, a former San Francisco All-American who was a member of three national championship teams. The elder Igwe wore the captain's armband for the Nigerian National Team during its World Cup qualifying tournaments in 1969 and 1973 and played against the legendary Pele' when the Nigerian National Team played against Santos in 1972.