Now two years removed from a CCS Championship, the Santa Clara Bruins’ soccer team is hoping for a bounce-back performance after missing the playoffs a year ago.
Thus far the Bruins are off to a solid start. Santa Clara finished off the non-league portion of their season with a 4-1-3 record. Even taking away six of their eight goals scored in an 8-1 blowout victory over Everett Alvarez on Dec. 18, the Bruins still managed to score twice as many goals (10) as they have allowed (5).
While taking on Branham in the preseason finale on Saturday, the Bruins didn’t quite have the finishing touch they would have liked, but they nonetheless came away with a 2-0 win. The defense prevented Branham from landing even a single shot on goal and junior midfielder Leah Acevedo continued to be the squad’s most impressive player.
While Acevedo scored the first goal of the game in the 55th minute on a high-arching shot just under the crossbar, it was her ball movement through the middle that stood out from the opening kickoff.
“She’s my star,” said Bruins Head Coach Brad Comstock on Acevedo. “We moved her from outside defender last year into the middle this year just because I wanted her on the ball more. Her vision is amazing, she knows how to score. Her goal today is what she does in practice every single day.”
Acevedo is adjusting seamlessly to her new position. It’s a spot that certainly has big shoes to fill. Maddie Ambelang, a key midfielder from the CCS Championship winning team graduated last season.
The Bruins do have some key returners in addition to Acevedo. Up front, the Bruins bring back Nicole Nunes and Alisa Bontrager who can score goals. On defense the Bruins also have a terrific pair of centerbacks in sophomores Analicia Bonelli and Jordan Lesnick.
Against Branham, the only dangerous opportunity the Bruins allowed was thwarted by impressive speed and a perfectly timed shot block by Bonelli.
“She’s a helluva player. She will go on to play in college,” praised coach Comstock on Bonelli. “She saved that opportunity for us.”
The trio of Acevedo with Bonelli and Lesnick is certainly a nice foundation to fall back on for the younger up-and-coming squad.
“They are really good back there, they always tell us what to do,” chuckled Acevedo on her defensive teammates. “It’s really good to have two great centerbacks like that.”
As for the scoring against Branham, Acevedo’s goal came in the 55th minute, while Nunes added an insurance marker in the 80th and final minute. The Bruins certainly would have liked to have scored more often. They hit a couple posts and had a couple of misfortunate offsides that should have led to goals.
“We possessed the ball quite a bit, but it didn’t really feel like we wanted to be here today,” remarked coach Comstock. “I know it’s close to New Year’s and all, but we just didn’t quite have it.”