Santa Clara can’t snap losing streak against Stanford
THE SANTA CLARA
September 22, 2016
The Broncos were just inches away from tying the top team in the country as they fell 2-1 to the Cardinals on Friday night in Stanford.
Santa Clara found themselves in an early hole when Stanford jumped off to a quick lead in the 13th minute. The Cardinals padded their lead with a goal in the 34th minute to push the score to 2-0.
“What playing quality teams does for you is it continues to expose your weaknesses,” said Head Coach Jerry Smith. “In the first half, we didn’t have defense compactness and Stanford exploited that.”
Stanford had all the momentum on their home field, but the Broncos wouldn’t fold. Santa Clara responded quickly as senior Jenna Roering took a through ball from Jordan Jesolva and snuck it past the keeper in the far right post. Roering netted her second goal and Jesolva her second assist on the play.
Moments later, Santa Clara came pain- fully close to tying the game at 2-2 when Jesolva ripped a shot that rang off the crossbar.
“A save here, a crossbar there, a tackle here or there makes the difference in the game,” said Coach Smith. “It was really one of those games of inches.”
The Broncos couldn’t muster a goal in the second half. Offense has been an issue this year, as the Broncos average just one goal per game and have only five in their last seven games. But despite the anemic scoring attack, Santa Clara was neck-and-neck with the nation’s best.
Stanford ended up with the W, but the Broncos could not have played the Cardinals any closer. Stanford had seven shots on goals; Santa Clara had six. Both teams had five saves, nine fouls and four corner kicks.
“Statistically the game was very, very even,” said Coach Smith. “So we can take some confidence from that knowing we can play the top teams in the country.
”With the loss, Santa Clara fell to 2-4-3. They’ve lost two in a row and have not notched a victory in their last seven games. And while the record seems discouraging, the Broncos should get back to their winning ways as they enter conference play in the coming weeks. To date, the Broncos have faced a daunting non-conference schedule. Four of their nine opponents are nationally ranked in the top-25 and seven of the nine made the NCAA tournament last year.
This rigorous schedule has put a dent in the Broncos standing, as the team currently sits 39th in the NCAA’s RPI rankings. But Santa Clara doesn’t need to be playing its best soccer at this point of the year. All that matters is they make the tournament.
“Every game that we played has exposed at least one weakness in our team,” said Coach Smith. “And that has given us the opportunity to improve in those areas so that when we get into the second half of the season, we hopefully will be making less mistakes going forward.”
The Broncos know what they need to fix and have plenty of time to do it. They still have a full conference schedule ahead and Santa Clara has had sustained success in the WCC. Santa Clara will look to get back to their winning ways when they take on U.C. Irvine Thursday night at 7:30 at Stevens Stadium.