Nov. 19, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The key number in No. 5 Santa Clara's 2-1 third-round NCAA Tournament victory at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday afternoon over No. 14 Boston College was eleven. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Broncos' intensity seemed to go all the way to eleven, they got the equalizer on Tina Estrada's eleventh goal of the season and with the win have now reached the NCAA quarterfinal round for the eleventh-straight year.
Things started off in conservative fashion as neither team managed a shot for the first few minutes of the match. The Broncos (17-4-2) and the Eagles (13-6-2) moved the ball around and seemed to be feeling out the other side, looking for a weakness to exploit or a break to capitalize on.
The Eagles caught the first big break of the match, as a foul about 30 yards out to the right side of the goal gave them a free kick and the game's first real opportunity in the 36th minute. Lindsey McArdle's looping kick found a clump of Broncos and Eagles in front of the net, and BC's Nicole Reyes got a head on the ball and redirected it past goalkeeper Julie Ryder for the early 1-0 lead.
Things stayed that way through halftime, as the two teams combined for only five shots between them. But from the opening second-half whistle, the Broncos broke out and took control of matters in a physical second half which saw four cautions handed out.
"I think my exact words were, `If we don't do anything else, let's be the more aggressive team in the second half,'" said head coach Jerry Smith. "And I really felt like that was the difference in the game. Part of being an aggressive team is off-the-ball movement. I thought our mobility and energy in the second half created some space for our team to play a little better."
Meagan Snell set the tone early in the second half as she sent a shot on frame that was saved by BC's Arianna Criscione only 16 seconds in. A few minutes later, Criscione was forced to hit the turf to make another save, this time on a Tiffany Roberts header off of a Bronco corner kick.
Santa Clara brought a renewed aggressiveness to the second half and began to penetrate the Eagle box. Their efforts finally paid off at 58:12 as Estrada was taken down in the box by BC's Heather Ferron and awarded a penalty kick. Estrada converted the PK to equalize things at one apiece, scoring her third goal of the tournament and eleventh of her junior campaign.
Yet the Broncos did not fall back on defense, content to have drawn even. They continued to attack and pressure the Boston College back line, keeping them on their heels and never letting them counter-attack. Without Marian Dalmy, who left the match in the first half with a knee injury, the onus of the Bronco defensive effort fell to central defenders Lauren Zealear and Danielle Potts.
Zealear and Potts came through once again with the type of solid defense which paced the Broncos to 13 shutouts so far this season. BC was held to only two shots on goal in the second half and four for the match. Another sign of the defensive dominance of the Broncos was that they did not allow the Eagles a single corner kick all match.
With the back line providing ample security, the Bronco attack pressed ahead and found another hole in the BC defense. Micaela Esquivel found a seam into the box and drew the defense away from the center of the penalty area. Once the center was cleared, she delivered a textbook cross to an unmarked Jordan Angeli who one-timed a rocket past Criscione to give Santa Clara the 2-1 lead.
For the last 20 minutes, Santa Clara put on a clinic on possessing the ball and preventing an opponent from getting any kind of attack started. The ability of the Broncos to keep BC from mounting any kind of answer provided a fitting conclusion to a dominant second-half performance.
Santa Clara will now travel across the country to face top-seeded Penn State in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions defeated Texas A&M 4-1 in early action Saturday. The teams will clash at a time and date to be announced by the NCAA Monday. The Broncos are making their 11th-straight quarterfinal appearance and will seek a trip to their 11th College Cup with a win at Penn State.