Oct. 6, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University returned home Friday for the first time since Aug. 27, and the Bulldogs played 17th-ranked Santa Clara University to a 0-0 double-overtime West Coast Conference draw at Martin Field.
The Bulldogs (3-5-2; 0-3-1) maintained their home-field mastery over the Broncos (6-3-3; 2-1-1) as Gonzaga is now 5-2-1 overall at Martin Field against SCU. Last year Gonzaga topped the then-11th-ranked Broncos 2-1 at home.
The scoreless deadlock was the second for Gonzaga in as many years, the Bulldogs and the University of Detroit going scoreless Sept. 4, 2005, at the Fr. Leo Sweeney Jesuit Cup hosted by the Loyola University of Chicago. The only other time Gonzaga has been involved in a scoreless match in WCC play since joining the conference in 1993 was Nov. 4, 1994, at Loyola Marymount University. Friday was the third time Gonzaga has played a scoreless tie at home. The first was Oct. 2, 1982, against the University of Puget Sound and the last was Sept. 23, 1998, against Oregon State University.
For the Broncos it was the second scoreless match in exactly two weeks as SCU and visiting San Jose State University went without a goal on Sept. 22.
Both teams had excellent chances to win in overtime. Jide Ogunbiyi forced Gonzaga keeper Vito Higgins to make one of is seven saves in the match early in the first overtime, turning and taking a low hard shot from 15 yards. A minute later Higgins had to sprawl to his right to save Brian Martin's low, hard shot from 15 yards that appeared ticketed for the far post.
The second overtime belonged to the Bulldogs. John Palladino's diving header from the left of the box off a Grant Lundberg right-to-left cross halfway through the second overtime rocketed past the far post and out of bounds. With 1:30 to play John Reha's point blank shot from the left of the net hit SCU keeper Joseph Buttitta in the chest for one of his two saves in the match but the Bulldogs were unable to corral the rebound.
Gonzaga appeared to take the early lead less than 10 minutes into the match, but George Josten's apparent goal from the left wing was nullified when Gonzaga's leading scorer was called offside.
SCU had its first solid scoring attempt of the match in the 39th minute when Sean Danzeiser's shot from 25 yards was tipped wide and out of bounds by Higgins.
Ryan Brown almost gave the Broncos the lead in the 59th minute, his header from 8 yards off a cross following a corner kick snapped up by Higgins, and two minutes later Lundberg broke down the left wing, but his shot was blocked by a trio of SCU defenders.
The most challenging save of the day for Higgins came in the 69th minute when Jeff Cosgriff blasted a shot from 10 yards out off the left wing, Higgins making the initial save at the post and the Bulldogs defense clearing the loose ball out of the way of the open goal.
The shutout was the second of the season and the sixth of his career for the junior Higgins, who is third on the all-time shutouts list at Gonzaga. Buttitta posted his fourth shutout of the season and of the career for the sophomore who was sidelined with an injury as a freshman in 2004 and did not see any playing time after joining the team at mid-season last year.
SCU held a 17-8 advantage in shots - including 15-3 in regulation play - and a 7-2 edge in shots on goal. Gonzaga out shot the Broncos 5-2 in the two overtime periods.
Gonzaga returns to action Sunday at 1 p.m. against Saint Mary's College, a match that follows an 11 a.m. women's match that has Gonzaga meeting the University of Portland. The Broncos will continue their Northwest swing at Portland on Sunday in a 2:15 p.m. match.