SANTA CLARA, Calif. – As the end of the regular season approaches, No. 17 Santa Clara women's soccer will play two games this week. The first game will be Fri., Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at San Francisco and the second will be Sun., Oct. 28 at 11:30 a.m. vs. San Diego at Buck Shaw. In its last game Santa Clara came away with a commanding 2-0 win vs. Gonzaga on October 21.
Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, now in his 26th season leading the Broncos, knows that every win in conference play is important and wins on the road are always hard-earned.
"Conference road wins are not easy and it requires a great deal of leadership from our players to overcome the adversity of playing road games," said Smith. "USF gives us an additional challenge in that they play on a turf field that is the only turf field in our conference. The movement of the ball is a little bit different on their field. Any time you're playing on the road you have to adjust to a new surface, different dimensions and a crowd that's rooting against you. The other challenge will be that they have a new head coach so it's not the USF team we've played in recent years. Whenever you have to overcome a lot of obstacles, you need your leaders to step up and you need to be very solid in all facets of the game."
"The group is focused on things we need to do to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament this year," said Smith. "We certainly want to win all of o ur games and know we're still in the running for the conference championship this year and this will be an important game. Those two things will be the main focus rather than what happened last year."
Another potential factor in the two games in the Bay Area this weekend is the weather. It has rained heavily and more rain is in the forecast.
"The rain definitely changes some of the decisions you make," said Smith. "You have to be a little more careful with the ball. One of the things that's great about our field is that when it rains, the field drains very well. The standing water and mud on the field is what really impacts the game and we won't have to deal with that this week."
The Broncos are blowing away the competition in shots attempted 264-180 but have had trouble getting shots on goal. Despite the issues getting shots on goal, Santa Clara has outscored its opponents 25-17 and has collected 83 corner kicks while allowing just 64.
Julie Johnston leads the team with five goals scored while tying for the team-lead with three assists. Her 13 points also lead the team. Tied for second in goals scored are Sofia Huerta and Lauren Matheson with four each. Six other Broncos have added at least one goal. Sarah Jackson is tied with Johnston for the team-lead in assists with three while Matheson, Katie Speidel, Kat McAuliffe, Dani Weatherholt and Olivia Klei each have two assists. Andi Tostanoski, who was named the Goalkeeper of the Week by Tow Drawer Soccer last week, Has a 1.03 GAA and a .792 save percentage. She has collected 57 saves and six shutouts.
San Francisco enters the game with a 7-7-3 overall record and a 2-4-0 mark in conference. The Dons have lost to Cal 3-0, Pepperdine 2-1, San Diego 2-0 and BYU 3-1 while taking down Gonzaga 2-0 and Saint Mary's 2-0. The Dons have been outshot by opponents 265-163, but have scored the same number of goals (20) as their opponents. They are also being dominated in corner kicks with opponents attempting 88 and the Dons only attempting 58.
Mackenzie is far and away the team leader in goals scored with nine. She has added two assists for a team-best 20 points. Jaciara Mello, Lauren Abuali and Rochelle Weerackoon are second on the team in goals, each with two. Christina Moberg and Abigail Phillips lead the team with three assists each. Madalyn Schiffel has allowed a 1.12 GAA and has a .838 save percentage in 2012. She has 62 saves and three shutouts.
The Toreros enter the weekend with an overall record of 7-9-0 and a 3-2-0 mark in WCC play. USD opened the season with a 4-2 loss at No. 10 Pepperdine but bounced back to win at home vs. No. 12 Texas A&M 1-0. The Toreros have also lost at No. 4 Duke 4-1, vs. No. 14 North Carolina 5-0, at No. 22 Long Beach State 1-0 and vs. No. 15 Pepperdine 2-0 last weekend. USD has been outscored by opponents 29-18 and outshot 106-76.
Emily Dillon and Dani Russell lead the team with three goals each and Dillon and Kelley McCloskey are tied for the team lead with three assists apiece. Mariah Butera, McCloskey and Sierra Ferreira have scored two goals each while five other players have each scored once. In goal, McKenna Tollack has seen the bulk of the playing time while picking up 65 saves and registering four shutouts.