SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Looking to make a run to the program's 11th Final Four, Santa Clara women's soccer released its 2013 schedule on Thursday. The Broncos have scheduled top opponents both at home and on the road to prepare the team for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Santa Clara will play 11 games against opponents that made the 2012 NCAA Tournament, including defending national champion North Carolina.
"I think we have a very good schedule this year," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, who is entering his 27th year at the helm. "Every year we try to put together the most challenging schedule we can. Our opening weekend will feature two potential Final Four teams to give us a great test. We play some teams we don't normally play like Maryland, Iowa State and Kansas so we're looking forward to those. We also play some teams we play each year like Stanford and Cal. We feel like this is a schedule that will prepare us for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, which is our goal each year."
The Broncos open the season at the University of Virginia Tournament where they will face North Carolina on August 23 and then Virginia on August 25. It will be the second consecutive season Santa Clara will open against the defending national champion. Last year the Broncos traveled to Stanford and fell despite holding a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The home opener at Buck Shaw will come vs. Long Beach State on August 29 at 7 p.m. Last year the Broncos took down Long Beach State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Buck Shaw.
After a trip to Fresno State, Santa Clara will play eight consecutive games at home with matches against Maryland, Cal and Stanford.
West Coast Conference play begins on October 10 vs. San Diego at Buck Shaw. BYU, San Francisco, LMU and Pepperdine all make visits to the Mission campus in 2013. The Broncos will travel to Saint Mary's for their first road conference game of the season. Senior day will be November 3 vs. Pepperdine at 1 p.m. The regular season wraps-up with a trip to the Northwest where Santa Clara will face Portland on November 7 and Gonzaga on November 9.
On October 20 the Broncos will travel to Stockton, Calif. to take on the newest West Coast Conference member, Pacific. The Tigers will add to an already difficult conference slate.
"We're excited about Pacific joining our conference," said Smith. "They're a very tough team and have always been very good. Like many of the teams on our schedule, they will challenge us and we're looking forward to that. It's always great to play as many demanding teams on your schedule as possible and Pacific will add that to our schedule on an annual basis."
The NCAA Tournament begins on November 15 and runs through December 8. The first four rounds will be played at local sites while the College Cup is in Cary, N.C. beginning December 6.