By: Kate Gruetter
On Nov. 4, Santa Clara University’s Women’s Soccer Team played their last regular season match against the University of Portland. With a close score of 1-0, the Broncos closed out their successful season with a well-earned win.
By the end of the season, the Broncos found themselves at No. 28 in D1 NCAA Women’s Soccer rankings, with a season chock full of tough match-ups and notable performances. Early in the season, the team played Columbia University, beating them with a 1-0 win. Although the Lions were tough on defense, sophomore Farrah Walters received a header from senior Makoto Nezu that Waltes effortlessly slammed into the net. Later, in their Sept. 10 away game against San Luis Obispo’s California Polytechnic State University, the Broncos showed up and stood out, ultimately tying the game 1-1.
During the team’s Sept. 30 match against Pepperdine University, freshman and center defensive player Malia Yamamoto scored the first goal of her collegiate career. Following a shot from the Broncos, Pepperdine’s goalkeeper Taylor Rath blocked the ball but failed to hold on to it, instead deflecting the ball to Yamamoto’s feet. After a relaxed first touch, the freshman sent the ball flying into the net and out of Rath’s reach. Though the team did face some tough losses against formidable opponents like the University of San Francisco and Gonzaga University, their season was a fantastic show of the school’s iconic soccer program.
Throughout the season, the West Coast Conference named multiple Santa Clara players for recognition as notable offensive and defensive players each week. In late August and mid-September, Walters received the title of Offensive Player of the Week. During the Broncos’ season, Walters boasted 11 goals, including a hat trick against Pacific University, which marked the 31st hat trick in the Broncos’ program history. The West Coast Conference also gave senior goalkeeper Marlee Nicolos the title of West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9. At the end of the season, Nicolos averaged a 0.795 save rate, facing 387 shots total in her entire collegiate career.
In addition to an incredible season, Santa Clara welcomed alumni Julie Ertz to their Oct. 21 match and Senior Day. The retired professional player originally played for Santa Clara from 2010 through 2013 before playing professionally for the Chicago Red Stars and the US Women’s National Team. Both players and coaches rejoiced at the opportunity to recognize and honor Ertz following her retirement.
Currently, the Broncos are competing in the NCAA tournament, clinching a win in the first round of games against Arizona State on Nov. 11. So, although their season is over, don’t miss out on watching the Broncos continue to kill it in tournament games, whether you’re watching in the stands or on your couch.
(Sources: NCAA, Santa Clara Broncos, WCC)