FULLERTON, Calif. — Santa Clara men's soccer made a triumphant return to the postseason Thursday night against Cal State Fullerton. Playing in the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2010, the Broncos scored less than 10 minutes into the match and rolled to a 3-0 victory at Titan Stadium.
Thursday's victory marked the first postseason win for the Broncos since 2007. Santa Clara has won five contests in a row for its longest winning streak since 2011.
"We're very proud of what we did on the field. We played very well tonight," head coach Cameron Rast said. "[The players'] belief in each other and what we're doing has come full circle in understanding what it takes to win at this level. They're supporting each other through a great run, and we look forward to continuing that."
The Broncos (11-7-1) struck first in the 10th minute on a headed goal by Luis Urias (pictured) from just inside the penalty spot. Dylan Autran played a corner kick on the ground, and crossed a return pass from Carlos Delgadillo for the WCC Freshman of the Year Urias, who slotted his first career goal in the far post side netting.
Delgadillo, a First Team All-WCC selection, scored his 10th goal of the season on a tap-in to make the score 2-0 Broncos in the 37th minute. After the Titans (13-8-1) had a free kick in the attacking half, Edson Cardona played a long, diagonal pass forward to put Autran in on net. Cal State Fullerton goalkeeper David Elias came off his line and Autran passed across the six-yard box to set up Delgadillo, who has now scored in five straight matches.
"I sort of heard Dylan and peeked to my right and saw him," Cardona said. "Once I hit that ball, it felt good. After that, I screamed to Dylan to pass it to [Carlos] because he was wide open. We all knew what we were doing and it was a great play."
Cardona netted the final goal of the game in the 53rd minute on a penalty kick. On the preceding play, Delgadillo fired a low, hard shot at Elias, tracked down the rebound and drew a foul to set up a chance from the spot.
"I love the work ethic of our guys to get one after another," Delgadillo said. "When we're in the final third, we have guys committed to putting the ball in the back of the net. When your front five is willing to get after teams and do everything possible to score, it's a great feeling to have that support."
Cal State Fullerton got the first good chance of the game seven minutes into the match. Ronaldo Pineda kept an attempted headed clearance in the box, and took a left-footed shot that forced Kendall McIntosh to make a diving save. The co-WCC Goalkeeper of the Year totaled six saves in the victory — the Titans outshot the Broncos 11-7.
Moments later on the other end, Titan midfielder Robert Coronado made a sliding goal line clearance on an Alfie Edmonds shot that beat Elias. Edmonds used his chest to bring down a cross on the left side of the 18-yard box, and shot across the face of goal but was denied on a great defensive effort.
With the victory, the Broncos avenged a 2-1 loss against Cal State Fullerton in their second home game of the season on Sept. 6. The two-time defending Big West champion Titans played without junior defender Ricardo Covarrubias, who was suspended for receiving a red card in the team's previous match.
Three goals is the largest margin of victory for the Broncos in a tournament match since 1998. In their last seven matches, the Broncos are 6-0-1, have outscored opponents 14-4 and posted four shutouts.
"The guys next to me are amazing. We have a family here," Cardona said. "Coach Cam always says work hard for each other. Today we showed that. We're blessed and happy to make it to the next round."
Santa Clara returns to the Bay Area for a second round matchup at Stanford Sunday at 5 p.m. In an exhibition match prior to the season, the Broncos and Cardinal played a goalless draw and remained tied after penalty kicks.