On the 30th anniversary of their NCAA Championship, players from the 1980 squad as well as leg- endary coach Steve Negoesco were honored on Friday night as the Dons faced hated rival the Broncos from Santa Clara.
The alumni were presented with green and gold striped USF scarves, which came in handy on a cold, foggy night in the city. USF came out strong against the visiting Broncos looking to turn around an eight game losing streak.
As with any West Coast Conference game, both teams had lots to play for and couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Santa Clara is in third place only three points behind Portland. San Francisco’s hoping to get their first win in conference and turn around their losing season.
Santa Clara had the first opportunity of the game with a volley in the 12th minute that rocked the crossbar and was nicely cleared by the Dons defense. No more than 20 minutes later, the green and gold responded after midfielder Vinny Caloiaro flicked on a throw-in from freshman forward Mauricio Diaz de Leon. The header went to the penalty spot where freshman Karl Kraft performed an acrobatic bicycle kick, flipping in mid-air and kicking the ball upside down, perfectly aimed at the back post. After the goal San Francisco controlled the pace of the game and played with more confidence. Kraft’s first career goal put the Dons up for the rest of the half.
Unfortunately the Broncos would respond right away in the start of the second half. The ref whistled for a foul 30 yards from the goal after a hard tackle on a 50-50 ball from the USF defense. Bronco midfielder Wes Culver stepped up to take the free kick and fired a laser to the far post past goalkeeper Brendan Roslund. Roslund managed to get a small piece of the rocket shot but couldn’t make the save. Filled with confidence after the change in momentum the visiting Broncos started to apply more pressure on the Dons defense.
USF wasn’t able to keep their composure under the pressure and a failed clearance in the 82nd minute led to a ridiculously lucky goal for Santa Clara. USF defender Sam Najmeh looked to clear the ball from the right flank when SCU forward Keigo Kameya came out of no where, stretching out his foot to deflect the clearance. As usual of late, everything bad that can happen against the Dons happened and the deflection off of the bottom of Kameya’s cleat had just enough spin on the wet turf to slide past the goalkeeper and into the net. Devastated and with only eight minutes to play, the Dons started to scramble looking for a late equal- izer. The Broncos were able to close out the game and came out on top extending their unbeaten streak to nine games.
The Dons continue their season next Friday as they take on the Pi- lots form University of Portland. The Pilots defeated the Dons 3-1 last time they met in Portland and they are currently tied for first in the WCC with a record of 5-1-1.
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