Broncos move up to quarterfinals; Pilots say watch out for next year
After Santa Clara's playoff win Sunday over the University of Portland, both coaches took a veiled swipe at the NCAA for putting them on a path to meet in the Sweet 16.
Portland, Santa Clara and North Carolina made up three-fourths of the Final Four last year, and Portland beat Santa Clara in the final. All three played strong schedules this year, and UNC, Santa Clara and UP were ranked 1-3-4 in the final Soccer America poll.
Portland coach Garrett Smith said the worst part of Sunday's game, which was decided on penalty kicks before 3,400 fans at Merlo Field, was the lack of television coverage.
'You only get a handful of chances to show what women's college soccer can be, and that's in the Final Four,' Smith said. 'This was a great game played by two strong programs. This should have been in the Final Four, not in the round of 16. It should have been on live television.'
A pair of saves in the shootout by Bronco goalie Julie Ryder were enough to move Santa Clara into a quarterfinal match at North Carolina this weekend.
Santa Clara has beaten UNC the last three times the teams have met. The Final Four is set for Cary, N.C., a short drive from UNC's campus in Chapel Hill.
Portland sent eight shots toward Ryder in the final 35 minutes, including a point-blank attempt by freshman Angie Woznuk that bounced off the right post.
'I thought that one was going in,' Woznuk said. 'I was almost already celebrating until the ball came back out.'
The Pilots, who had seven freshmen on the field at times, are excited about the future.
'This team played unbelievably well for how many freshmen we had,' junior forward Lindsey Huie said. 'We definitely proved we can play with anybody and that we are going to be a team to beat next year.'
The Pilots also will get back Christine Sinclair, the national player of the year in 2002, for two more seasons. She sat out this season to play for the Canadian national team.
The Pilot men beat Oregon State 3-2 on Saturday in the first round of the 48-team NCAA tournament. UP will head to the University of Washington for a 7 p.m. Wednesday match. Portland got a rare goal from defender Josh Brown in the 87th minute to beat the Beavers in the first round for the second year.