KANSAS CITY, Mo. – After topping the second-ranked team in the country, Santa Clara women's soccer moved up five spots in the most recent United Soccer Coaches Poll to No. 7 in the country, the biggest jump in the nation. It is the highest the Broncos have been ranked in the poll since the end of the 2013 season when they also finished at seven after reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The weekend kicked-off with a bang on Friday night as Santa Clara topped then-No. 2 North Carolina at Stevens Stadium 1-0. It was the fifth win in the last seven matches over the Tar Heels for Santa Clara.
After a battle for the first 61 minutes, the Broncos broke through on the first collegiate goal for freshman Kaile Halvorsen. Halvorsen ran down a ball that a Tar Heels defender failed to clear and beat the keeper near post for the lone goal of the match.
Santa Clara avoided a letdown two days later, picking up a 3-2 win over Notre Dame. The Broncos had not beaten the Irish since a 2-0 win on Sept. 11, 2009, a span of seven matches (0-5-2).
The Fighting Irish tied the match right out of halftime but the Broncos came back with two goals in the span of two minutes to get right back on top. Skylar Smith made it 2-1 with her first career goal and Kelsey Turnbow scored her team-high tying third of the season. Maria Sanchez also scored her third of the year for the first of the game.
Sanchez sits atop the WCC leaderboards with 11 points and five assists while sitting in a third-place tie with three goals. She was named the WCC Player of the Week on Aug. 27 after picking up a program-record trying four assists vs. Cal on Aug. 20. Gonzalez and Turnbow are also tied for third in goals with six other players.
In net, the Broncos are led by Melissa Lowder who is tied for first in the league with three shutouts. Her 1.09 GAA is third in the conference and she has made 24 saves for a .774 save percentage.
Santa Clara's 6-1 record is its best start through seven matches since beginning the 2007 season 6-0-1. In those seven matches the Broncos have played a pair of ranked teams (No. 2 North Carolina, No. 8 Texas A&M) and four teams that received votes in the poll (Cal, North Texas, Kansas State, Notre Dame).
The scheduled doesn't get any easier, as Santa Clara hosts TCU, also receiving votes, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. to conclude a three-game homestand and then travels to No. 1 Stanford Sunday at 4 p.m.
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