Sept. 26, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - After two disappointing losses two weeks ago to UCLA and Cal State Northridge, the men's soccer team was at a crossroads heading into two games against big rivals last week. However, Cameron Rast's team responded with two excellent performances against San Jose State and San Francisco to restore their confidence and regain the momentum that they had been building through the first five games of the year.
"We played two solid games last weekend," said Rast. "Against San Jose State, we did not get the result that we wanted but I think that the team proved to itself that it could play good soccer and we created enough chances to win the game. Then we went out and had an excellent performance against USF and that proved to the coaching staff that the team is ready for the WCC schedule."
Coming off that big win in their West Coast Conference opener against the USF, the No. 15 Santa Clara men's soccer team will look to keep its momentum going with two WCC contests this weekend. On Friday, Sept. 29, SCU faces the Loyola Marymount Lions at 7:00 p.m. PT at Buck Shaw Stadium and then on Sunday, Oct. 1, the Broncos welcome the WCC's hottest team, the University of San Diego Toreros. Both matches will have live video and audio coverage at SantaClaraBroncos.com.
The Broncos midfield, led by captains' Erik Ustruck and Peter Lowry and freshman Stephen McCarthy will once again be key to the team's success. The trio has started all nine games together this season and has been integral in dictating SCU's offensive rhythm.
"It has been nice to be able to pencil all three of those guys into the lineup," said Rast. "Peter does a great job distributing the ball and breaking up attacks while Erik and Stephen have been excellent at moving the ball all year long. Erik's leadership has also been invaluable. They will need to play well again this weekend for us to get some good results."
The Broncos entire team will need to be on the top of their game for Friday's match against Loyola Marymount, who has the potential to finish near the top of the WCC standings.
"I think that Loyola Marymount has one of their most talented squads in recent memory," noted Rast. "We are going to have to be mentally ready for a difficult game. If we come out like we did against USF, the team will be fine."
The Lions of LMU have had some big wins this season as well as some heart-breaking losses in starting 5-4-0. They have beaten Connecticut, which was ranked No. 2 at the time, and WCC foe Gonzaga, while losing tight 1-0 games to the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, who have been ranked in the top-25 all season, and the University of Portland,. David Niemeyer and Bobby Burling have led the attack, combining for five goals for the Lions.
Last season, Loyola Marymount sprung a late-season upset and earned their first-ever win at Buck Shaw Stadium 2-1, helping thwart the Broncos WCC title hopes. While the Broncos lead the overall series 19-6-1, LMU has had the upper hand recently, winning three out of the past four matches.
Sunday afternoon should provide another great test for SCU as they face the WCC's hottest team, San Diego, in a showdown at Buck Shaw. The Toreros currently have a five-game winning streak going and an attack that features seven different players with at least three goals.
"San Diego is riding high right now," said Rast. "We have to be ready from the start of the game to match their intensity and take the game to them. We need to come out and try to dictate the tempo of the match right from the start."
San Diego swept two WCC games against Gonzaga and Portland last weekend to put itself at the top of the conference standings. The Toreros have been helped by the play of freshman forward Ciaran O'Brien, who was named the WCC Co-Player of the Week for his two goal, one assist performance last week. In 2006, he has scored four goals and notched four assists to lead a potent Torero attack. Ryan Guy, who led the team in assists last year, has also posted four goals, while 2005 leading scorer Dustin Guerrero has been steady with three goals and three assists.
After regaining their confidence last weekend, the Broncos will look to move themselves to the top of the heap in the WCC this week.
"I can see this team starting to get that belief that we can win any game," said Rast. "They just need to maintain that belief and I think good things will happen for this team because there is a lot of talent."