Nov. 14, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - When the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament pairings were announced this afternoon, it was easy enough for observers of the Santa Clara University program to look ahead to a potential much-anticipated second round matchup at seventh-seeded California.
However, that wasn't what Broncos head coach Cameron Rast and his players were looking forward to. They had only Friday's first round opponent, Ohio State, on their minds.
"Ohio State is a tough first round opponent and their team is our only focus right now," said Rast, who is 1-1 as a head coach against teams from the Big Ten Conference. "They earned their right to play here and any talk of our team looking ahead to Cal just isn't the case. We have a tradition of playing in the NCAA Tournament and look to approach it just like we have in the past and that's by focusing solely on each opponent as they come."
An at-large selection, Santa Clara was awarded its 16th postseason berth in school history and third-straight when it was announced the Broncos would host the Buckeyes Friday night at 7 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium. Tickets are available online by clicking here or by calling the SCU Athletic Ticket Office at 408/554-4660 during business hours.
"We are, obviously, very proud to once again by selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament for the third year in a row," said Rast. "I think we have a very good group who are very deserving and will represent our university well at the highest level of college soccer. We are pleased to have a chance to compete for a national championship. That is always our goal when we begin the season. We train hard for it and we are looking forward to that opportunity."
The Broncos enter the tournament with a 12-6-2 overall record after finishing the West Coast Conference round-robin schedule with a 6-4-2 mark and second-place finish. During the non-conference portion of the schedule Santa Clara lost just twice, a 3-1 setback at top-seeded Maryland and a last-minute 1-0 defeat at Cal. Santa Clara played three of the tournament's top-seven seeds during the regular-season.
During the course of the season, five different Broncos earned WCC player of the week honors, two were named national player of the week and senior goalkeeper Kevin Sweeney was named the league's player of the month for October.
Ohio State enters Friday's match with a 11-7-2 record after falling 3-0 in the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Evanston, Ill. Five Buckeyes were named all-Big Ten and midfielder Danny Irizarry was named to the league's all-freshman squad.
"Our work is really cut out for us with this first round matchup," said Rast. "I know their coach, John Bleum, since he coached at Fresno State. They had a very tough schedule this year as well. They beat UCLA and played number one ranked Akron and number one ranked New Mexico. And, they played Indiana and Penn State, which are both seeded in the tournament.
"It is going to be a tough battle with a lot of physical play."