Offense can’t muster a single goal on the two game road trip
THE SANTA CLARA
October 6, 2016
The pursuit of an eleventh West Coast Conference title did not start as the women’s soccer team envisioned. The Broncos, who were projected to finish second in the WCC this year, could only manage a draw and defeat from two conference road games last Thursday and Saturday.
The conference opener featured the Broncos against Brigham Young University, the third-ranked team in the nation. Santa Clara travelled to South Stadium in Provo, Utah, one of the toughest places to play in the country. So to battle to a 0-0 draw in two overtimes against the Cougars, who have only lost one game in 12 contests this season, the Broncos might as well have considered Thursday night a win.
The Broncos controlled the flow of the game and strong possession play kept the dangerous Cougars offense at bay through both overtimes. Melissa Lowder saved all six shots that came her way and Kellie Peay anchored an increasingly consistent defense, shutting down conference standouts Ashley Hatch and Michele Vasconcelos.
“Before each half starts, we get into a little huddle and talk about our keys to the half,” Peay said. “Which normally revolves around proactive and positive communication, leading the team from the back and shutting out the other team from a goal scoring standpoint.”
Riding high from their successful trip to BYU, the Broncos travelled to the University of San Diego on Saturday to take on the Toreros.
Lowder and Peay again lead a strong effort from the back-line, but the performance from San Diego goalkeeper Amber Michel proved the difference. After a mental error on defense put San Diego ahead 1-0 in the 68th minute, the Broncos proved incapable of finding a breakthrough. Michel made eight saves en route to a clean sheet and Santa Clara returned home winless from their road trip.
“A combination of playing a top five team, playing on the road, having to get on a plane the next day and playing overtime—all together took its toll on the team,” said Head Coach Jerry Smith. “In the end we still outplayed San Diego in our game and the reason we lost the game is because we weren’t able to score a couple of goals that we certainly created chances for.”
The Broncos offense is dependent on playmaking from Jenna Roering and Jordan Jesolva, who have combined for seven of the team’s 10 goals. As evidenced from the consecutive shutouts in the first two conference games, composure in the attacking third is a glaring weakness for the Broncos.
“The coaches have planned on working on our team’s attacking for the next couple weeks,” Roering said. “I think this will help us find the back of the net more often by working on our aggressiveness, attacking movements and finishing under pressure. I think when we become more confident under pressure, we will be able to score more goals.”
The Broncos will look to get their first conference win against the University of Pacific on Friday. The WCC match-up will be played at Stevens Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Ben Epstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.