Nov. 5, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif.- Junior George Josten scored his 12th goal of the season 20 seconds into overtime and Gonzaga University ended the regular season Sunday with a 2-1 overtime victory over West Coast Conference champion and seventh-ranked Santa Clara University at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The victory gave Gonzaga (9-8-2; 6-5-1) third place in the WCC with 19 points, trailing only SCU (26) and USF (21). It's the highest finish for the Bulldogs since 2001 when they tied for second. The six wins are the most for the Bulldogs since the WCC adopted the double round robin 12-game schedule in 2004.
Josten, who equaled his goal output of 2005 and now has 29 career goals, won the game with a weaving solo run through the defense. After receiving the ball near midfield, Josten dribbled past three Bronco defenders and then tucked away a shot to the far post to give Gonzaga the victory. It was his fifth match-winning goal of the season. He won his second straight WCC goals and points title with 12 goals and 28 points. He was tied for the lead in both categories entering the weekend, but he had two goals in Friday's 3-0 win over Saint Mary's College.
SCU (12-4-4; 8-2-2) had already wrapped up the regular-season title.Gonzaga was one of the hottest teams in the WCC the second half of the season. After opening WCC play 0-3 with three straight road losses, the Bulldogs went 6-2-1 in WCC play down the stretch that included a 0-0 home tie with then-17th-ranked SCU and a 2-1 overtime home victory over two-time defending WCC champion and 16th-ranked University of San Francisco.
The Bulldogs won Sunday despite being out shot 20-11.
All of the scoring Sunday came in the final 10 minutes. Gonzaga freshman Ben Funkhouser got the first goal of the match and the first of his career on a breakaway goal at 81:27. A chip from the midfield sprung the product of Spokane's Eavt Valley High. Broncos' keeper Joseph Buttitta came off his line and attempted to clear the ball away, but the ball slipped by him and Funkhouser recovered the loose ball before depositing it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
But the lead didn't last long. SCU's Amaechi Igwe scored his fifth goal of the year at 86:41. Jide Ogunbiyi got the ball on the left wing and slid a pass to Matt Hatzke who drove a low ball into the area where Igwe collected it and then blasted it past Gonzaga keeper Vito Higgins.
That set the stage for Josten's quick heroics in overtime.
In the opening 15 minutes of the match SCU sophomore Brian Martin had a great chance to put the Broncos up 1-0, Martin and Peter Lowry combining to force a turnover and Martin breaking in on the right wing with only Higgins to beat. Martin shot low but Higgins got down to make the save.
Early in the second half, Sean Danzeiser made a strong run down the right wing beating three players to free himself just inside the box. However, his low cross for Ogunbiyi was cut off by the Gonzaga defense to end the threat.
Buttitta came up big 10 minutes into the second half to keep the Zags off the board. John Reha sent a ball through to Ben Sawyer behind the defense and Sawyer had only Buttitta to beat. He attempted to chip the ball to the far post, but Buttitta dove and was able to knock the ball over the bar to keep the game scoreless.
SCU senior Erik Ustruck nearly scored midway through the second half. After picking up the ball in midfield, he ripped a 40-yard shot that beat Higgins but skimmed off the crossbar.
While SCU is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA College Cup as automatic WCC champion, the rest of the conference will await announcement of the 48-team field Monday at 1 p.m. Pacific time on ESPNEWS. USF and Gonzaga will receive consideration and USD finished the season 10-8-1 overall but 5-6-1 for fifth place in the WCC. Gonzaga went 6-3-1 in its last 10 matches.