Women's Soccer Edged 3-2 At No. 8 Santa Clara

Santa Clara, Calif. - The San Jose State University women’s soccer team twice pulled to within one goal late but ultimately fell to eighth-ranked Santa Clara University, 3-2, in the 2007 season opener for both squads at Santa Clara’s Buck Shaw Stadium on Friday, August 31.

With the loss, San Jose State drops to 0-1 on the young season. Perennial power Santa Clara, nine-time defending West Coast Conference champions, start off 1-0 and improve to a perfect 12-0 all-time against the Spartans.

The contest marked the start of the 2007-08 installment of the “Rivalry Series” between the two South Bay universities, with Santa Clara taking the first three points for women’s soccer of the annual all-sports competition.

The first half saw a balanced match following an early goal by the hosts. Santa Clara earned a free kick just outside the Spartan penalty area, with senior Tina Estrada, the Broncos’ leading scorer in both 2004 and 2005, marking her return to action after missing the entire 2006 campaign, with a goal low and into the left corner at 3:15 just beyond a diving Marissa Dayton.

It was the first shot of the afternoon, and Santa Clara out-shot San Jose State for the half, 7-6. The Broncos had a goal in either half disallowed due to offsides calls, while the teams combined for four shots that were denied by goal posts. The first came off the foot of Santa Clara’s Hayley Siegel from a Lexi Orand cross, hitting the left post at 11:13 after Spartan goalie Marissa Dayton had gotten a hand to it.

Sophomore Roxy Kamal then produced San Jose State’s best chance to score in the first half, blasting a shot from distance that sailed over the head of Santa Clara goalkeeper Meagan McCray, only to come high off the far post. McCray, a junior, was credited with a save.

In the second half, the Spartans had a pair of chances to equalize on shots from seniors Heidi Romswinckel-Guise and Nicole Irwin at 60:57 and 63:42, respectively, with McCray there for the save both times. Santa Clara finally extended its advantage to 2-0 at the 66:00 mark on senior Brittany Klein’s far-post header from a left-sided cross.

At 78:40, junior central midfielder Jennifer Guadagnolo was dragged down by Chioma Igwe in the Bronco penalty box, and the Spartans were awarded a penalty kick. Senior defender Kristin Krale stepped up and found the back of the net past McCray to pull SJSU within a goal at 2-1.

Less than eight minutes later, Orand’s shot was saved by Dayton, only for the ball to be put into the goal on the rebound by freshman Jessie Baddley for her first collegiate goal and a 3-1 lead.

Once again, the Spartans pulled to within one, but with just 32 ticks showing on the clock, as a free kick by junior forward Liz Behlen from the right wing was met by senior midfielder Jackie Zabek, who’s flicked header went over the reach of McCray and into the goal for the 3-2 final.

“This was a good way for us to start,” said Krale, a tri-captain who started her 62nd straight game since arriving at San Jose State as a freshman in 2004. “It was unfortunate how it ended. We didn’t get the win that we wanted, but it was a good step for us, and now we need to work on some things like defending set pieces, and pick it up for our upcoming games.”

“We missed some opportunities, but overall I thought it was a good game for it being our first,” added Zabek, a fellow senior tri-captain who herself played in her 62nd consecutive game as a Spartan.

“It was a really physical game,” remarked fourth-year San Jose State head coach Dave Siracusa. “We got behind early, and it took us a while to find our rhythm, but in the second half we were even in goals (2-2). I felt like we were one short play away, but we gave a good effort for our first game (of the season).

“We want to beat Santa Clara. It is our goal every year to play with them, and I thought we did that today. It just wasn’t there for us at the very end, but Santa Clara is a good team.”

Dayton, a redshirt sophomore and now a second-year starter in goal for San Jose State, made nine saves, including a couple of critical stops in the first half.

“Marissa had some spectacular saves in the first half,” said her coach. “She kept us in the game down just 1-0 at halftime. But everybody played well. (Senior midfielder) Tasha Van Dixhorn stepped up off the bench and gave us a real lift.”

Danielle Drago, a true freshman out of San Mateo, Calif., and nearby Saint Francis High School, made her collegiate debut as a halftime substitute on the left side of midfield.

Commented 21st-year Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, “It was pretty sloppy defensively by both teams, but that’s to be expected in the early part of the season. It could have gone either way today. It was a back-and-forth game. We had a good crowd, and both sides enjoyed that. It was more enjoyable for the players and the fans, and I was happy about that. You have to respect (San Jose State’s) never-say-die attitude.

“Being our first game, and a local rivalry, our players were excited (heading in). These schools are just six miles apart. Our players are familiar with each other.”

San Jose State next plays its 2007 home opener this Sunday, September 2, welcoming area foe University of San Francisco to Spartan Stadium for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. The Dons will be the Spartans’ second straight West Coast Conference opponent to begin the 2007 season.

San Jose State (0-1) - 0 2 - 2
No. 8 Santa Clara (1-0) - 1 2 - 3

SCU - Tina Estrada (1) (unassisted), 3:45
SCU - Brittany Klein (1) (unassisted), 66:00
SJSU - Kristin Krale (1) (penalty kick), 78:40
SCU - Jessie Baddley (1) (Lexi Orand), 86:04
SJSU - Jackie Zabek (1) (Liz Behlen), 89:28

SJSU - 12
SCU - 21

Goalkeeper Saves
SJSU - 9 (Marissa Dayton-9)
SCU - 6 (Meagan McCray-4; Team-2)

Corner Kicks
SJSU - 1
SCU - 9

SJSU - 14
SCU - 13