Women’s Soccer Eyes Postseason
Team now ranked ninth in RPI with five games to go
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:10
If making The Final Four is the end goal and the Santa Clara women’s soccer team is positioning themselves to do just that.
Five more games — all in conference — separate the team from entering the NCAA tournament as one of the top 10 teams in the country is on the line.
The Broncos have been putting together a very strong season this fall, and after splitting two conference games last weekend, they currently have a record of 8-3-4.
Santa Clara is ranked 9th in the RPI system, which is what the NCAA uses to seed the tournament. The key, according to 26th-year Head Coach Jerry Smith, is to be in the top 16.
The tournament is set up in such a way that the top 16 seeded teams get protection from playing each other in the early rounds of the tournament.
“You want to get into the tournament and develop confidence and momentum, which is hard when the first or second game is the best team in the country,” Smith said. “It’s important that we win out to maintain a chance at getting one of those seeds.”
In Smith’s eyes, there are only two teams, Stanford University and Florida State University, that have really separated themselves as the best. According to Smith, the difference between the third and the 18th seeds is really minimal.
Smith is confident that the Broncos can run with any team in the country and “in any 10 games, we’d win five,” he said.
Despite a tough loss to Pepperdine University last Sunday, the team’s performance was very strong.
“In the last five games we’ve grown as a team and the game against Pepperdine, even though it was a loss, was one of the best performances we’ve had,” said midfielder Lauren Matheson.
Defender Sofia Huerta and midfielder Julie Johnston have been leading the way on offense, both of whom recently returned from their respective under-20 World Cup teams.
“To train for three months straight and then to be in Japan for the U-20 World Cup, then come back and integrate as smoothly as they have done is a credit to both of those individuals,” said Smith.
After scoring three goals for Team Mexico in the cup, Huerta already leads the Broncos with 55 shots taken and has four goals in just 10 games.
“In order to be a dangerous player, you have to put yourself in dangerous positions and get shots off, and Sofia (Huerta) does that amongst the best in the country,” said Smith. “She’s really about to break out. I think she could have a really good end of the season and tournament.”
Matheson and Johnston share the team lead for goals with Huerta.
“Lauren (Matheson) has really stepped up for us in terms of being a dangerous player,” said Smith.
Smith spoke very highly of this year’s team, saying “I really like this group. We’ve had talented teams in the past and this team has talent, but it also has grit.”
The Broncos are currently in fourth place and their spirits seem to be high.
“The girls are amazing, Matheson said. “We support each other, and it’s just an awesome atmosphere.”
Contact Henry Gula at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.