SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Santa Clara University Bronco men's soccer team will begin its 2010 season with a neutral site match against the University of Wisconsin Badgers Saturday, September 4 in Irvine. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Getting off to a good start will be important for an SCU team that struggled out of the gate a year ago. The Broncos lost an overtime game to nationally ranked UC Irvine 3-2 in its 2009 season opener - a game SCU led 2-0. Santa Clara went on lose two of its first three and start the season 2-5-2.
"It would not have taken much more last year to have our season turn out much differently," said Rast, who has led SCU to six NCAA tournament appearances in eight years. "When things start to go right it is amazing how much more tends to go right. And the same can happen on the negative side."
Rast expects a number of newcomers to make an immediate impact this weekend. Santa Clara has brought in five U.S. Soccer Development Academy recruits: 6-foot-3 forward Keigo Kameya, defender Mark Daus, San Jose product Carlos Montes and Southern California natives Phillip Muscarella and Michael Gates.
"Our young players have been really impressive in camp," said Rast. "We're excited to see how everything comes together. There's a youthful enthusiasm with this group."
Pairing the young players with proven stars in all-league forward Erik Hurtado, midfielder Brandon Zimmerman and defender Mykell Bates will give the Broncos a good chance at producing positive results.
Hurtado may be the most talented front-line player in the WCC. Both he and Eric Masch were named to the WCC's preseason all-conference team. Los Angeles native and former all-league honoree Kevin Klasila (pictured), coming off a redshirt season in 2009, will start in goal for the Broncos.
The challenge Saturday night will be a Wisconsin group that finished 3-3-0 in the Big Ten Conference last season – a league that has six of its seven teams ranked in the 2010 preseason polls.
Loyola-Chicago is coming off a 4-8-3 season in 2009 and must find a way to replace its top four point producers. The Ramblers have already played three exhibition games and after a match this week against Creighton and a Friday night meeting with UC Irvine, Loyola will have five matches under their belt before kicking-off with SCU Monday.
CLICK HERE to access live stats for both games via Santa Clara's official athletics website (SantaClaraBroncos.com).