Nov. 9, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - This Friday night's NCAA Tournament first-round doubleheader marks the 18th consecutive year that the No. 3 Santa Clara women's soccer team opens up postseason play. The Broncos will look to begin their quest for an 11th College Cup appearance and second national title as they battle the USC Women of Troy at 4 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Tickets for the weekend's matches are available by calling (408) 554-4660. Stanford and Nevada will battle in Friday's nightcap at 7 p.m., and Friday's winners will meet in the second-round match Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Santa Clara earned one of the tournament's four top seeds and has the opportunity to remain at Buck Shaw Stadium all the way up to the College Cup, should they continue advancing. Since the team's first NCAA Tournament match in 1989, Santa Clara holds a record of 29-2 (.935) in postseason contests held at Buck Shaw Stadium.
"I was happy about getting a No. 1 seed, and it means that the very difficult schedule that we played this year really paid dividends for us," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "We're really excited to be playing at home, we have a great record at home in the tournament and we are looking forward to the match against USC."
The Broncos come into the tournament after winning their ninth West Coast Conference title with last Saturday's 2-1 win at Saint Mary's. Marian Dalmy was named WCC Player of the Year on Wednesday after leading all defenders with six goals and 18 points and being a crucial member of an SCU defense that shutout 11 opponents in 2006. SCU had nine players honored in all on the All-WCC teams, with Dalmy, Kiki Bosio, Amanda Poach, Meagan Snell, and Lauren Zealear all earning first-team honors. Smith was also named WCC Coach of the Year for the seventh time.
Waiting for the Broncos in the first round on Friday will be the Pac-10's Women of Troy from USC (10-4-5). The Women of Troy split their final weekend of the regular season, notching a 3-1 win at Oregon State before falling by the same score to Oregon to close out the regular season. USC is led by the five goals and nine assists (19 points) of Rosa Anna Tantillo, while goalkeeper Veronica Simonton has posted a 0.57 goals-against average and 10 shutouts in 2006 to highlight the USC defense.
"Our approach going into this game is just to focus on what we've been doing," Smith said. "One of the first battles you want to win is seeing who is going to adjust to who. We have a lot of experience against teams who are very organized defensively, so our midset going in is simply to do what we do best."
The Women of Troy lead the overall series against the Broncos, 2-1, and Friday's meeting will be the first between the two schools since the 2003 season, which saw USC take a 3-0 win on Sept. 26 at Buck Shaw Stadium.