Seven Dons seniors played their final match at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday, a 2-1 loss to the Santa Clara Broncos. Senior forwards Liam Kelly, Tanner Smith, Michael Shaddock, Brady Jimison and midfielders Gerry Vera, Vegard Karlsen and Mauricio Diaz De Leon were honored before the game with flowers and an announcement of their accomplishments. Team captain Diaz De Leon, who was an All-West Coast Conference (WCC) First Team honoree in 2012, an All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2011 and a WCC All-Freshman Team honoree in 2010, was accompanied by USF president Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J. as he received his senior bouquet.
“I’m proud of our guys. The seniors played well,” Head Coach Erik Visser told USFDons.com.
Kelly scored his second goal of the season about 12 minutes into his final match, chipping the ball into the net from about five feet away off a pass from freshman defender Christian De Luna. The Dons would keep the 1-0 lead for just a few minutes — Santa Clara tied the game in the 16th minute when Michael Gates snuck the ball past USF goalkeeper redshirt freshman Connor Gaal immediately after entering the game from the bench.
In the 23rd minute Diaz de Leon nearly regained the lead for the Dons on a corner kick that rebounded into a shot opportunity, but his shot was saved by Bronco goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.
The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, after which both teams ramped up the energy in their quest for the lead. A shot in the 63rd minute by sophomore defender Joshua Smith
looked like a goal for the Dons, but the ball was determined to have just missed crossing the line into the net. A couple minutes later Santa Clara scored a clear goal on a penalty kick into the top of the net by Mark Daus after a foul was called on the Dons’ redshirt sophomore defender Kevin Gould.
“It comes down to details and the second half we had one or two really good looks at the goal,” Visser said. “I thought maybe one was a goal, and really out of nowhere we gave them an opportunity on a penalty kick and they took advantage of it.”
One more shot on goal by Kelley in the 82nd minute turned out to be the Dons’ last attempt to tie it up before time ran out. McIntosh was able to get in front of the shot, securing the win for the Broncos.
“It was a game that we definitely deserved to win but in the big picture it comes down to a couple of mental mistakes here and there,” Visser said. “I give Santa Clara a lot of credit coming here. They did what they had to do to win.”The Dons will face Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. They will finish out their season in Portland, Ore. against the University of Portland Pilots on Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. in the WCC Game of the Week.