Santa Clara battles back from early goal to pull off big upset
THE SANTA CLARA
October 1, 2015
Last Friday night, Santa Clara’s men’s soccer team clashed and recorded an important 2-1 victory against 20th ranked University of California, Berkeley.
The team walked out onto the pitch on Buck Shaw Field inside Stevens Stadium, confident after vigorous preparation for the big game.
“We are a certain type of team,” said Head Coach Cameron Rast about how his team approaches their games. “(We are a) team that will compete for 90 minutes. A team that likes to press the game. A team that likes to put opposing teams under pressure and make them feel uncomfortable.”
Santa Clara looked to improve to 4-5 on the season by being aggressive towards the highly ranked opponent.
“We were going to come out attacking,” said sophomore Carlos Delgadillo. “This is our home turf, we weren’t going to give them anything.”
Yet, Cal’s attack broke through early in the seventh minute when the Bears found a gap and whipped a shot into the back of the net.
“Unfortunately, we gave them a goal in the (first) ten minutes,” Delgadillo said. “But our response was great.”
And the team did respond. They played from behind for 20 minutes and stuck to their game plan by keeping up the pressure and moving the ball upfield.
The continuous pressure from the team eventually poked holes in Cal’s defense. The Broncos finally caught a break in the twenty-fourth minute when Cals goalie misplayed a ball and was called for a handball at the top of the box.
A perfect opportunity presented itself via a free kick. Senior Dylan Autran took advantage and hit the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal, lifting the Broncos back onto a level playing field against the Bears.
“We were pretty confident coming in,” Autran said. “It’s always tough to go down early, but we showed a lot of character coming back.”
As a result, Cal began playing more offensively, and now, the Santa Clara forwards had space to maneuver and apply even more pressure.
“Once we got on the scoreboard, we dominated the game,” Autran said after the match. “With our goal, we were able to settle down and play pretty well,”
Despite the more space on offense for the Broncos, due to their opponents more aggressive tactics, Cal also made several pushes of their own.
Senior goalie Kendall McIntosh was there to make sure no Cal player would score again as he “felt comfortable” in the goal box all night.
“(The)backline protected me amazingly tonight,” McIntosh said. “It was the whole team who defended well. It was a really good team performance.”
The Bears and Broncos battled into halftime and both teams came out of the break, again, on the offensive.
However, in the 84th minute, another free kick was given to the Broncos at midfield.
The set piece was sent long into the box and bounced around before Carlos Delgadillo kicked the ball towards the bottom left corner of the goal and scored the second goal for Santa Clara.
“It’s just a forward’s instinct of the ball bouncing around the box, and it’s my job to get it and score,” Delgadillo said.
Players and fans erupted as the Broncos took their first lead of the game.
“There were still six minutes left. We (knew we) had to focus and finish,” McIntosh said. With the clock finally reaching zero after a few tense minutes, both team’s players fell to the ground at the sound of the buzzer.
“I’m proud of the team for hanging in against a good Cal team,” Rast said.
The team’s victory drops Cal to 5-2 and gives Santa Clara a 4-5 record just two games before conference play.
“For us going forward, it’s all about consistency,” Autran said. “Tonight was huge, but we need to keep building (as we head) into conference.”
However, it was a joyful night for the team to walk away from, looking forward to pushing themselves harder while tasting the fruits of their labors.
“I feel joy. I feel a lot of pressure off the team,” Delgadillo said.“Tonight is a special moment to share with my brothers on the team, and at the end of the day it’s a team, and without them, I wouldn’t be able to score.”
Luckily for the Broncos, the West Coast Conference has played relatively poor this season.
While drawing conclusions from non-conference play can be misleading, Santa Clara nevertheless sits just one game out of first place, despite having a losing record.
The team will face trials of games on the road against opponent San Jose State on Thursday, Oct. 1 and top 10 opponent Akron Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Contact Ethan Ayson at firstname.lastname@example.org.