Sept. 29, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The fifth-ranked Santa Clara women's soccer team continues its stretch of five matches in ten days when it travels to Stanford to participate in the Stanford Nike Classic this weekend. The Broncos kick off tournament action Friday night at 7:30 p.m. against the 18th-ranked Cardinal before concluding the weekend against Oakland on Sunday afternoon at Maloney Field.
The Broncos head into the final stretch of their non-conference slate with an 8-1-1 mark, one made all the more impressive by the fact that six of those ten matches have come against schools that have been ranked in the national polls this year. Four of those schools (Notre Dame, UCLA, California, and Wake Forest) have been as high as the top-10 in the nation, and Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly hold national rankings as well.
Friday's match with No. 18 Stanford (4-3-1) will be no different in terms of intensity and could even be a preview of things to come when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. The Broncos and the Cardinal have met in the tournament in each of the last two seasons, with Santa Clara prevailing both times with a pair of 1-0 victories. So far in 2005, Stanford, like Santa Clara, has played some of the nation's best early on, including Portland, North Carolina, and Texas A&M.
"There are a lot of similarities between Stanford and Santa Clara, not only in the schedule that we play but the style and formations as well," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "When you play a team that you know well and they know you well, the games are very tight and often end up being stalemates. I think this is going to be a tight, low-scoring game, and that puts a little more importance on the execution of corner kicks and dead balls and not making unnecessary fouls too often."
Adding to the drama of a hotly-contested match is the fact that the Broncos will be taking to the pitch Friday night without leading scorer Jordan Angeli. In the 43rd minute of Wednesday night's victory over San Jose State, Angeli was issued a red card for retaliating against a Spartan defender who had brought Angeli down with a hard tackle moments prior.
"Jordan will be a big loss for us, she's our leading scorer and even though she's a sophomore she is a real leader for our team," commented Smith on Angeli's importance to the team. "But I don't think it will affect our tactics. We're going to go out, try to score goals and win the game, play the same formation and try to emphasize the things that we would normally do."
Without Angeli in the lineup, the Bronco attack will be spearheaded by Tina Estrada and Meagan Snell, who each have two goals on the year. Snell is on a hot streak as of late, with two goals and two assists in the last three matches, while Estrada's penchant for being in the right place at the right time (she has eight career game-winners in two-plus years at SCU) will keep the Cardinal defense honest.
Sunday's match against Oakland will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Golden Grizzlies enter the weekend with a 3-4-1 mark and represent the Mid-Continent Conference. They are led by Kristi Swaving's five goals on the season, while Marianne Samdaland and Kristi Vanderberghe provide more threats for Oakland as they each have four goals on the season.
"Sunday against Oakland will be our fifth game in ten days, and in those kinds of situations you rely more on the depth of your team." Smith said. "[Wednesday night] we were able to play a lot of different players in the game, and probably fewer will play in tomorrow night's game. Sunday we'll be looking for our depth to help us, so some of those players will be a little fresher by virtue of not playing as many minutes Friday night against Stanford, and we'll look to them to hopefully come through for us on Sunday."
The Broncos have shown the ability to not only come out victorious against some of the other elite teams in the nation, but also to not fall prey to the "trap" games that can sneak up on some of the best teams after emotional wins. Santa Clara's resolve was evidenced a few weeks ago as they defeated then-No. 1 Notre Dame in a tension-packed match and returned two days later to the Buck Shaw turf and held off Cal State Fullerton 1-0, as reserve forward Kendall Doherty showcased the Broncos' depth by scoring the winning goal.
Kick-off for Friday night's match against Stanford is set for 7:30 p.m. at Maloney Field on the Cardinal campus. Sunday's match will kick off at 11 a.m.