Nov. 18, 2007
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Santa Clara men's soccer team completed an unbeaten season in the West Coast Conference with a 2-1 win over the Portland Pilots at Merlo Field. Ranked No. 3 in the country, the Broncos have now gone unbeaten in 17 straight matches, good for second all time in program history. Kellen Wantulok and Ross Smith scored first-half goals for Santa Clara (15-1-4, 10-0-2 in the WCC) to lead them to the victory.
Santa Clara dodged an early bullet, as the Pilots hit the post just three minutes into the game. The Pilots Bryan Irwin hit a shot from the top of the box that struck the post before being cleared away.
However, the Broncos recovered from that slow start to apply heavy pressure to the Pilots goal. Sean Danzeiser, Kellen Wantulok and David Castellanos all had solid opportunities for the Broncos in the opening 25 minutes, but none could find the back of the net.
The pressure finally paid off in the 27th minute with Wantulok netting his second goal of the season. Senior Peter Lowry slipped a perfectly weighted pass through the defense for Wantulok, who out-ran the defense and hit a shot past Pilots goalkeeper Austin Guerrero. The assist was Lowry's fifth of the season and it tied him for the conference points lead.
SCU gave the lead back 13 minutes later on a defensive miscue. Broncos goalkeeper Kevin Klasila came off his line to clear a ball away, but his clearance struck one of his defenders and deflected into the goal to tie the game 1-1.
Refusing to put their heads down, the Broncos came right back to regain the lead with only 20 seconds left in the half. Lowry was again the catalyst, as he sent a ball to the wing for Brian Martin. Martin sent a cross into the box that found Ross Smith, who blasted a shot past Guerrero and a handful of Pilots' defenders into the upper corner. The goal was the first of Smith's career at Santa Clara and SCU headed into the locker with a 2-1 lead.
Klasila and the Broncos defense would make the lead hold up in the second half. Klasila made a save on a Frankie Lopez header midway through the half and also stopped a breakaway by the Pilots to keep Santa Clara in front.
Both Jeff Cosgriff and Martin hit the crossbar with shots in the second half, as the Broncos did not stop attacking en route to becoming the first WCC team to go unbeaten in conference play since the double round robin format was adopted in 2004.
The Broncos will now await their seed in the NCAA Tournament. The entire bracket for the tournament will be announced on Monday, Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m. PT on ESPNews.