Broncos automatically qualify for postseason play
THE SANTA CLARA
November 14, 2013
The women’s soccer team proved to be one of the best teams in its conference, walking away with a share of the West Coast Conference Championship title after this past weekend’s games.
Santa Clara shares the WCC title with Brigham Young University and the University of Portland, as all three ended the season with conference records of 8-1. The trio will represent the WCC in the NCAA postseason tournament that begins this weekend.
“We’re thrilled to win the championship,” said Head Coach Jerry Smith. “This win will pay dividends for us going forward. No one can take that away from us.”
In addition to the team’s successful season as a unit, senior Julie Johnston was named WCC Player of the Year.
Johnston finished with 12 goals and seven assists on the season.
Santa Clara suffered its only loss in WCC play last Thursday on the road against Portland by a score of 3-1.
Portland outshot Santa Clara 14-11, but both teams tied 6-6 in shots on goal.
“We’re thankful that the mistakes we made in that game were not in the tournament,” said defender Ellie Rice. “We can learn from that game and fix those mistakes as we go forward.”
With little time to mourn the loss, the Broncos hit the field again on Saturday afternoon against Gonzaga University. The Broncos, true to their season’s form, blew away the Bulldogs and walked away with a 6-3 win.
Junior Sofia Huerta’s second hat trick of her career led the way for the Broncos in their final conference game of the season.
Senior Morgan Marlborough scored two goals and senior Alyson Birgel added one more.
“Going into our season, we knew we were capable of winning the conference championship,” said Marlborough. “We did that. Now it’s time to focus on the postseason.”
Although Portland and BYU also ended their conference season 8-1 and will have a place in the NCAA Tournament, Santa Clara received an automatic bid into the tournament because of goal differential.
“(The automatic bid) is a recognition of who the conference feels — of the co-champions — was the best team,” said Smith. “Even though we only have a share of the championship, we know we were probably the best team in our conference this year — certainly the best offensive team.”
Santa Clara indeed dominated offensively this season in both non-conference and conference matchups.
The Broncos racked up 57 goals and 355 shots. The team’s average of 3.00 goals per game gave the team the second best scoring output in the country, just behind the University of Virginia.
Santa Clara also held up well defensively. The Broncos allowed the third fewest goals in the WCC. They also tied for the most shutouts in conference, racking up nine in total.
The Broncos will host the University of California, Berkeley in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium. The game beings at 1 p.m.
“The key in the NCAA Tournament is to truly take every game as a one game season,” said Smith. “In the NCAA, its important to stay in the moment and not get ahead of yourself, since its single elimination. It’s going be a tough match, but we’re looking forward to it.”
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