The Santa Clara Bruins soccer squad is sitting pretty atop the De Anza League standings. An impressive start to the 2020 league season has the Bruins at 8-3-2 overall. With a 2-1 win over Los Altos on Friday, the Bruins improve to 4-0-1 within the De Anza division.
It’s been a nice turnaround for the Bruins compared to recent seasons. Two years ago, the Bruins finished 4-7-1 within league. Last season, the first under Head Coach Dan Sequiera, the team made a modest improvement, finishing 4-5-3. We are just over a third of the way through this season and the Bruins have already matched their win total from the last two seasons.
One of the key difference makers for the Bruins is their extremely dynamic striker Tamba Di Mattia. It’s not just that the junior is fast, but it is his acceleration from zero to 60 that was distinct on Friday. His game-winning goal scored in the 73rd minute cemented his being one of the stars of the game. Not only did Di Mattia draw multiple fouls in dangerous areas for set pieces, one of them arguably should have drawn a red card. Just a few minutes before his goal, Di Mattia blew by the last defender just past midfield and had his jersey pulled from behind. The official only gave out a yellow card on the play, but nobody would have been able to catch Di Mattia on what would have been a sure breakaway.
“He has a bright future, a real bright future,” remarked Bruins’ Assistant Coach George Ramirez. “He’s a special player.”
“Tamba always holds it down for us,” added fellow junior Brian Mariano, who scored to put the Bruins up 1-0 in the first half. “He keeps his balance, he knows when to turn and we get the counter attack going with him, his work ethic is insane man.”
Mariano’s goal in the 15th minute came shortly after a corner, the Bruins regrouped nicely and connected on two passes through the box before Mariano was able to bury a pass from Noel Jauregui into the back of the net.
At that point, Santa Clara seemed to get a little over confident as Los Altos tied things up shortly thereafter in the 22nd minute. The Eagles strike was a rather flukey goal, as a hard shot from 18 yards out deflected off a defender and completely changed directions on goalkeeper Inaki Suarez. But the possession was certainly in the Eagles favor in the seven minutes between goals.
“We got a little too happy, too excited,” admitted Mariano. “We thought it was gonna be an easy game already.”
Santa Clara would bounce back though and control the rest of the game after conceding the 1-1 equalizer. On the game-winning goal Di Mattia eventually got loose behind the Eagles back line after a nice through ball from Alberto Gavia.
“Before [Alberto] even got the ball, I knew, striker’s instinct, I knew where he was gonna put it,” remarked Di Mattia. “He gave me the perfect opportunity.”
The Bruins will look to go 5-0-1 when they play at Los Gatos on Friday, Jan. 24.