Santa Clara Bruins Head Coach Brad Comstock sang some high praises for his squad after a 0-0 tie against Los Gatos on Friday night. By drawing with the Wildcats, the Bruins now own a 2-1-3 record in the De Anza league. One of the two wins, a 1-0 victory over Mountain View was the team’s first victory over the Spartans in 10 years under Comstock. The past three seasons saw the Spartans lose just at combined games, amounting to a whopping 30-3-3 league record. Three years ago, Comstock’s Bruins won a share of the CCS title. During league play that season the Bruins went just 0-1-1 against Mountain View.
A victory over Mountain View and impressive ties against both Palo Alto and Los Gatos simply beg the question: how does the current Bruins team compare to the one that won CCS in 2017?
“Identical,” responded Comstock when asked that very question. “The only thing I’m missing on this team is Ellie [Mujushi], I don’t have that one girl who is going to give us a goal when we need it.”
That is certainly some extremely high-level praise directed towards a number of the current players. Perhaps one of the most notable being junior goalkeeper Lindsey Crocker. The 2016-17 team arguably featured their second-best player between the pipes in Samantha Coelho. While Crocker wasn’t tested much against Los Gatos, a clean sheet is a clean sheet and Comstock says he’s incredibly impressed with her development.
“[Lindsey] is like Sam in a lot of ways,” praised Comstock. “Where she has come from to where she is now is phenomenal. She commands the field. Lindsey is a huge part of why we can go out against Los Gatos and not concede a single goal.”
That 2016-17 team also had a lock-down midfielder in Maddie Ambelang. Not only does the current team feature younger sister Cassie Ambelang, but junior transfer student Leila Linke was used in a new position in the middle to shutdown the Wildcats’ best player.
“Their big girl in the middle, number 18, we took her out of the game tonight. I put [Linke] who has never played midfield in her life, and I said, ‘you bug the crap out of her’ and she did,” noted Comstock. “Leila is the fastest girl on the team and she doesn’t get tired. She was all over that midfield today. I can’t stop thinking about how good she played for us.”
The 2016-17 team also featured an incredibly strong back line, and that is no different with this year’s team. In fact, the team is so strong defensively, Comstock has moved last year’s center back Jordan Lesnick up to the middle. Lesnick is arguably the closest player the team has to a Mujushi, and getting her closer to the opponent’s end for scoring opportunities makes sense. That move is only made possible, though, with the depth of defenders behind Lesnick. The current back line is powered by speedster Logan Morris, the defensively stout Olivia Lingscheit and Sara Ollson in the middle as centerbacks. Fellow defenders Kelanie Garcia and Emma Sawaya are the outside defenders or “wingers” in the team’s new 5-3-2 system.
Santa Clara will play their biggest game of the season on Friday, Jan. 31 when they host Homestead, the only team in the league that has beaten them this season. The Bruins fell 3-2 to the Mustangs back on Jan. 10.