After a grueling non-conference schedule, Santa Clara Women’s Soccer was sitting with a record of two wins, six losses and one draw. This was expected to mainly be a rebuilding year for the Broncos, as they lost several key attackers and defenders from last season.
Head Coach Jerry Smith knew he had his work cut out, noting in the early going that it would take time for this team to reconfigure and fit the 2022 roster together. Now, at the end of the regular season, it’s safe to say the culture he and the athletes have built is second to none as they came into conference play.
Santa Clara started out conference play 6-0, outscoring opponents 17 to 3 over that stretch and recementing their place at the top of the WCC. The Broncos attack has been led by Izzy D’Aquila and Farrah Walters, with D’Aquila scoring 18 goals – a record that currently has her tied at 2nd in the nation. The midfield got healthier, with Lucy Mitchell returning from an injury and Colby Barnett putting opponents in a bind on the perimeter. Additionally, the defense came together with Marisa Bubnis, Alyssa Bourgeois, Emma Reeves and Karly Reeves holding down the backline, along with goalkeeper Marlee Nicolos who came back this season with a vengeance.
The team made great adjustments to win the 2022 WCC Championship with an overall record of 10-6-3. The Broncos earned the autobid over BYU and Portland, after a miraculous comeback in Malibu against the Pepperdine Waves led by Ellie Glenn and the aforementioned Izzy D’Aquila. Santa Clara didn’t drop a single conference game, coming out even in an absolute war against BYU in Provo and almost breaking down the door against Gonzaga. It’s now season three according to Jerry Smith, in which the Broncos have come a long way compared to season one (the non-conference portion of the schedule).
“Each year we have three seasons. Season one, the non-conference, didn’t go well for us but season two is the conference in which we are fields,” said Smith. “Now it’s the NCAA tournament and we are excited to get going on season three. Proud of the Broncos and being WCC champs three seasons in a row.”
As attention turns towards the postseason, the Broncos head into the NCAA tournament with a hard-earned #8 seed in the Notre Dame region. Santa Clara will be hosting a first-round matchup against none other than the California Golden Bears out of the Pac 12 conference. Boasting a record of 10-4-6, the Bears are coming in to play the Broncos in Stevens Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12th. Kickoff is at 1pm and tickets for the game can be purchased here. Go Broncos!