Santa Clara, Calif. - Efrain Burgos, Jr., produced a stunning goal from approximately 50 yards out to open the scoring in the 64th minute, but San Jose State University eventually had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Santa Clara University in a classic meeting between top area rivals at Buck Shaw Stadium on Wednesday night, September 24.
With the tie in its second road match of the new season, San Jose State moves its overall mark to 3-1-3. Santa Clara, a perennial national and West Coast Conference power playing in just its second home contest by contrast, is now 1-4-2. The Broncos began the season ranked as high as No. 1 by one national poll, but have struggled away from home out of the gate.
The night had the feel throughout as though the Spartans might finally break the hex of having not won at Santa Clara since a 1-0 decision 23 years ago on October 15, 1985, but the necessary finishing was lacking in attack to produce an all-important goal.
That is, of course, until the 63:39 mark of he second half.
That’s when San Jose State was able to produce the piece of magic it had been looking for.
Colby Moore’s persistence won the Spartans a free kick near the right corner flag. Burgos, Jr.’s free kick failed to generate much of a threat and was cleared out. Amid Bronco shouts for a foul that went unheeded by the match official, the ball settled once again at the feet of Burgos, Jr., on the right sideline near midfield. The sophomore attacking central midfielder out of San Bruno, Calif., faked a long pass, put a touch through the legs of Santa Clara’s Jalil Anibaba, looked up, saw sophomore goalkeeper Jeremy Del Re off his line and launched an incredible blast that floated seemingly forever until finally going over Del Re’s head, connecting with the net for the game’s first goal, and at least temporarily silencing the raucous Bronco student section on the opposite side among the announced crowd of 1,209 fans.
Santa Clara equalized at the 81:58 mark through what has so far been the Achilles’ heel of the Spartan defense, a set piece. Bronco freshman Mykell Bates’ throw-in from the right was head-flicked backwards by sophomore Ross Smith, with junior Stephen McCarthy first to it inside the penalty area to nod the ball into the upper left corner past senior goalie Lewis Sweeney.
Though both sides had chances to score over the first 10-minute overtime period, Santa Clara could lay the claim that it was closer to finding a winner. With five minutes left in the frame, a dangerous cross from the left by Jide Ogunbiyi was cleared with difficulty out of the middle by Spartan senior tri-captain Ed Brand. Less than a minute later, Bates’ throw-in, this time from the left, got to Anibaba in the center, but the sophomore midfielder’s point-blank shot went high.
The second and final 10-minute overtime featured little activity by either side, with the match ending in a 1-1 deadlock.
The Spartans had similar-looking chances early during a goalless first half on a pair of set pieces of their own. Burgos, Jr., handled back-to-back free kicks from about 30 yards out on the right side in the 10th and 11th minutes. On the first one, midfield teammate Josh Boemecke got caught on the in-between hop and was unable to get a clean touch at the far post. Nick Cukar attempted to get his right foot on the latter from near the top of the penalty box, but the ball wound up wide to the left on both, with neither gaining credit for a shot.
In the 23rd minute, McCarthy’s shot found the left corner behind Sweeney, but the goal was disallowed due to a clear offside call. Less than 30 seconds later, Sweeney dove nicely to his right to catch an attempt by Anibaba. Another minute after that, Jeffrey Strong found his way into the San Jose State penalty box down the left goal line, and the home side almost benefited from some miscommunication by the Spartans to be first on the scoreboard, but the ball was ultimately cleared away.
Cukar earned a free kick from just outside the penalty area for the Spartans in the 29th minute. Burgos skipped his effort narrowly wide of the right post beyond the diving Del Re.
The best scoring opportunity of the first half came from Santa Clara in the 39th minute. Brandon Zimmerman’s corner kick found Bates, diminutive at 5-foot-9, wide open in the middle of the six-yard box. Bates’ free header was destined for the corner of the goal but kept out at the back post by redshirt freshman Spartan midfielder Robert Jackson with his knee. Murphy Campbell’s follow-up shot was then hit high over the crossbar as the match remained scoreless.
Six minutes into the second half, a long throw-in from the right side deep in the Bronco offensive third by Moore made it all the way into the six-yard area, and Burgos, Jr., got a touch off at the near post that went narrowly wide to the right. Five minutes later, Burgos, Jr., hit a well-placed, dangerous corner kick into the box that senior teammate Hiroki Akiyama could not quite get to, with the ball trickling over the goal line on the opposite side for another corner kick.
After its goal, San Jose State squandered two prime opportunities to grab a likely clincher. The 71st minute featured a frantic flurry in the Bronco penalty box. Another driven free kick by Burgos, Jr., was met with a flying header in the area by Jackson, with the ball deflecting back out for fellow redshirt freshman Boyah Kaar to have a go, only for that effort to go wide ahead of an offside call against the Spartans as senior Sam Shore readied for another put-back.
Then in the 79th minute, reserve striker Stephen Cordova scurried through the Bronco defense up the middle of the field. Just when it looked like his path to goal had been cut off, junior teammate Brian McGuire came running onto the ball from behind the play and found himself nearly one-on-one with Del Re. His shot was blocked at the last minute, however, with the rebound heading wide and being cleared.
In between, McCarthy’s 77th-minute shot went narrowly wide for Santa Clara. A mere 3:26 after McGuire’s chance, Santa Clara had knotted the match. Even still, San Jose State created one last threat at the 85:10 mark, again through Burgos, Jr., who took a nice through pass from Kaar, made one effective move to shake a defender at the top of the penalty box and put his shot low but just wide to the right of the target from the left diagonal.
Sweeney finished with a season-high six saves in the Spartan net. Del Re had three stops in goal for the Broncos. Burgos, Jr., had a game-high four shots. No other Spartan player earned credit for more than one attempt. Anibaba, McCarthy and Brian Martin registered three shots apiece for Santa Clara. The Broncos out-shot the Spartans as a team, 17-9, and had eight corner kicks to two by SJSU. The rivalry match featured a total of 43 fouls and five yellow cards.
San Jose State continues a season-long five-game road stretch with its first trip requiring an overnight stay this season, on Sunday, September 28, at future Mountain Pacific Sports Federation foe Cal State Bakersfield (2-6). Kick-off at Main Soccer Field is slated for 1:00 p.m.
San Jose State (3-1-3) - 0 1 0 0 - 1
Santa Clara (1-4-2) - 0 1 0 0 - 1
SJSU - Efrain Burgos, Jr. (2) (unassisted), 63:39
SCU - Stephen McCarthy (1) (Ross Smith, Mykell Bates), 81:58
SJSU - 9
SCU - 17
SJSU - 6 (Lewis Sweeney-6)
SCU - 3 (Jeremy Del Re-3)
SJSU - 2
SCU - 8
SJSU - 17
SCU - 26