Sept. 20, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Bronco men's and women's soccer teams kick off the start of classes this Friday night with a double-header spectacular at Buck Shaw Stadium. The No. 15 Bronco men (4-2-1) open the doubleheader with a Rivalry Series match against San Jose State (3-3-0) at 6:00 p.m. PT, followed by one of the highlights of the women's soccer schedule. Ranked fifth in the country, the Bronco women (6-2-0) welcome the third-ranked in the nation in the UCLA Bruins (6-1-0).
In the opener, the men's team will be looking to rebound from a tough weekend in Southern California in which it dropped games to UCLA and Cal State Northridge.
"We learned a lot of hard lessons last weekend," said Broncos head coach Cameron Rast. "Our inexperience showed up a bit, but having tough games on the road early in the season will only help us in the long run. I think the team is excited about coming home and taking on a local rivalry in an important game for us."
Despite the Broncos stumble last weekend, they appear to in good shape for this weekend's match against the Spartans. They have a very deep lineup and are getting contributions from seniors all the way down to the freshmen. Junior captain Peter Lowry scored his team-leading fourth goal last weekend to move him to second in the West Coast Conference in scoring, while senior Keith DeVey has scored two goals in the past three matches.
"We are really going to rely on our experienced players right now," said Rast. "Peter and Keith have been very good this year and they are helping our talented younger players get better. Erik Ustruck has also provided excellent leadership with his two-way play in midfield."
For the visiting Spartans, they are led by Ed Brand, who has scored two goals so far in 2006. Led by head coach Gary St. Clair, who is in his 17th season, the Spartans have posted a 3-3-0 record with big wins over Stanford and Saint Mary's in the early portion of their schedule. In the all-time series, the Broncos lead 20-19-1 after posting two straight wins in 2004 and 2005.
"Rivalry Series matches are always intense and good battles," noted Rast. "We have gotten the better of them recently, but no game with them is ever easy. We expect a tight game on Friday and I think that our guys will be fired up and ready for it."
The nightcap of Friday night's twinbill features the match of the week in the women's college soccer world as the No. 5 Broncos (6-2-0) host the No. 3 UCLA Bruins (6-1-0) following the men's contest. The Broncos are coming off of a weekend which saw them on the wrong end of a 1-0 upset at the hands of Boston University, but then bounce back two days later to claim a 1-0 overtime win over the No. 9 Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Meagan Snell's fifth goal of the year.
"Against Boston University we learned that you can't overlook anybody and that you have to prepare yourself well and show up ready to play," said head coach Jerry Smith of the past weekend, before praising the team's effort in rebounding to defeat the Lady Vols. "Sunday, we learned that if we do come to play and hustle, good things will happen for our team. We had good control of the match and got another goal from Meagan, so we're real happy that she's scoring so well and having a lot of confidence in front of the net."
Santa Clara will look to keep its 11-match home winning streak intact on Friday against the very team that dealt them their last loss at Buck Shaw Stadium, as UCLA's Danesha Adams scored both Bruin goals in their 2-1 overtime win last Sept. 16. In fact, each of the past four matches between the two teams has required extra time to determine the match's outcome, with the Bruins holding the 2-1-1 edge in those four meetings.
Snell, who has scored a goal in five of the last six matches, leads a Bronco attack that will look to pressure UCLA goalkeeper Val Henderson early and often, while a back line anchored by veterans Marian Dalmy and Lauren Zealear will be tasked with locking down the speedy and dangerous Adams.
"UCLA is one of the most talented teams in the country, and Danesha is right at the center of that talent pool that they have," Smith said of Adams. "She is gifted in so many different ways with her speed, quickness, and skill. You have to contain her every second that she is out there on the field, and that's not an easy job to do. You have to be careful with UCLA, though, because they have so many weapons, and players like Christina DiMartino and Lauren Cheney can easily hurt you if you put too much attention on one player."
"It's going to be a great challenge for us, our matches with UCLA have always been real tight games and I think we'll have another one of those this Friday," Smith added.
Following Friday night's double-header, the Bronco women will return to Buck Shaw Stadium Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. to battle the CS Fullerton Titans.