Aug. 19, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara women's soccer team begins a new chapter in the program's history this Friday with its season-opening match against San Jose State at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. The Broncos will then follow up Friday's match with their home opener on Sunday against UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Santa Clara received a No. 22 national preseason ranking from the NSCAA despite posting an injury marred 4-11-3 record in the 2008 season, but expects to regain its place in the national soccer scene with the aid of Top Drawer Soccer's No. 1-ranked recruiting class and several highly-touted returners including MAC Hermann Trophy Candidate Katherine Reynolds, Kiki Bosio, Dani Potts, Jordan Angeli, and Amanda Poach.
The Bronco women have been picked to finish third in the West Coast Conference in the annual preseason poll and are aiming to return to the NCAA Tournament for the 20th time under head coach Jerry Smith.
ALL-TIME VS SJSU AND UCSB
Santa Clara is a perfect 13-0-0 against San Jose State and last defeated the Spartans 3-0 on Aug. 22, 2008. The series against the Gauchos is much more even, with the Broncos holding the 8-7-4 edge and the two teams tying nil-nil in the last meeting on Oct. 17, 2007.
CROSS TOWN RIVALS
Although the Rivalry Series between Santa Clara and San Jose State is now defunct, the spirited environment of the match lives on. Smith believes it doesn't matter who has what record or who plays for who when it comes to the local derby. "It's a battle for cross-town bragging rights," says Smith. "When we last played them in the spring, we tied, so were not assuming anything going into this match. They have a great new coach, Jeff Leightman, who is only in his second season and has done wonderful things for the program and improved the culture over there, and it will be a great opening game."
The Spartans finished fifth in the Western Athletic Conference last season and posted an overall record of 5-11-4. Emmy Belding, San Jose State's top returner, led the team in goals (8), points (17) and shots (39) in the 2008 season.
GOING AT THE GAUCHOS
The Broncos will give fans their first look at the 2009 squad on Buck Shaw Stadium two days after the match in San Jose when they take on UC Santa Barbara for the 20th time in program history. It won't be an easy match, as the two teams have played against each other fairly evenly in recent history, and the Gauchos will have had an extra day of rest over the Broncos after their Thursday match against Westmont. Still, the numbers are on Santa Clara's side, as the Broncos are 17-3-2 in home openers since 1987 when Smith became the head coach.
UC Santa Barbara is led by returning senior Genelle Ives, who led the team in scoring (9), points (25), and shots (79) and was named the 2008 Big West Offensive Player of the Year. Three other players, Jacqui Simon, Kylie McDonald, and Kailyn Kugler each had over five goals last season.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MATCHES
Smith sees importance in the season opening series in two ways; first, and most obvious, two wins would help Santa Clara come November when the NCAA Tournament Committee makes its selections, and second in the way his team comes together. "We don't play any preseason scrimmages, so there are always a few question marks in our first couple of games," says Smith. "The games help us determine who will play where, what combinations of players work together, and with 30 players this season we have a lot of depth and more options, which in turn makes it take longer to figure out how our team will be composed."
FOLLOW THE BRONCOS ONLINE
For fans who cannot attend either match this weekend, live stats will be available for both games. Friday's live stats can be found at sjsuspartans.com, and Sunday's on santaclarabroncos.com.
Following this weekend's matches, the Broncos will travel to the East Coast for Labor Day weekend to take on Maryland and Georgetown before returning for the Santa Clara Classic on Sept. 11-13.