The Santa Clara Bruins soccer squad came out firing on Wednesday night. With some impressive finishing touches and a little help from their home-field advantage, the Bruins (4-4-1) raced to a 3-0 first-half lead, eventually upsetting league-leading Homestead, 4-1.
Santa Clara kicked off the scoring in just the ninth minute when junior Zaid Ansari fired a low shot just inside the post from about 17-yards away.
“I saw the ball come in the air and I saw my teammate. He held it up for me and then there was this awkward bounce off the grass,” recalled Ansari on the sequence leading up to the goal. “I kinda lost it in the lights, so I guessed where it would go, I ran past my guy and the ball landed right at my feet, first time I hit it across the goal. Next thing I know I was celebrating.”
About five minutes later the Bruins would take a 2-0 lead when a long through ball looked to be harmlessly rolling towards the Mustangs’ keeper. As he came out to clear the ball though, the goalie slipped in the rain-soaked field of mud and the ball rolled past him. That allowed Bruins sophomore Anthony Curiel to easily run past him and shoot the ball into a wide-open net.
“Yes,” responded Bruins Head Coach Dan Sequeira with a slight chuckle when asked about the home-field advantage aiding the second goal. “The [goalie] slip [obviously helped], but that’s why we want to play here. The boys feel really comfortable playing here at home. Mostly we play all turf, the other teams are used to it. This is our field, it’s grass, we’re comfortable here, it’s our advantage.
Santa Clara would add to their lead in the first half when senior captain Solomon Kendaya finished off a nice give-and-go attack. Kendaya beat his defender wide, then pulled up, cut back inside and slid a shot underneath the diving keeper from inside the six-yard box.
“My teammate Tony [Curiel] was wide open on the left wing and I played him the ball. He held it for a second for me to make a run and then he found me with a great through ball,” noted Kendaya. “At that point it was pretty easy for me to finish.”
In addition to their goals, Santa Clara carried the possession throughout the first 40 minutes. That would change however in the second half. The Bruins sat back, protecting their big lead and the Mustangs took control. Homestead would score in the 70th minute to cut the lead to 3-1. At that point the game was still within reach for the Mustangs, but then Bruins senior Mateo Oliveira-Tavares scored just five minutes later to seal the victory.
Not to be forgotten in the Bruins’ barrage of goals is the fact their keeper Victor Garibay made a couple of great saves. He timed his challenge perfectly to deny a grade-A opportunity late in the first half. Then in the second half he stopped a point-blank shot with a diving save.
“Victor started as our backup the first couple of games but took over the starting role and has been our starter ever since,” said coach Sequeira. “He’s a good leader, tells everyone where to position. He really wanted this game after allowing a goal he didn’t like last game.”
The Bruins season ended with their senior night on Feb. 13.