Lions Denied First Place by Santa Clara, 2-1
LMU drops first game at home in 2010
Oct. 31, 2010
LOS ANGELES - Santa Clara scored twice in a two-minute span to stun LMU 2-1 in a battle for first place in the West Coast Conference standings on Sunday at Sullivan Field. The Lions (9-5-2, 5-2-1 WCC) opened the scoring through junior Artur Jozkowicz but the Broncos (8-4-5, 5-0-4 WCC) ran their unbeaten streak to 11 matches with two quick goals to take over first place in the WCC on 19 points. The Lions sit in third with 16 points, one behind Portland, but with a game-in-hand on both teams.
After dropping their first conference game of the year last Wednesday at San Diego, the Lions returned to Sullivan looking to maintain their 100% record on their home turf. A physical game from the start, the contest featured a combined 37 fouls and 33 shots as both sides refused to budge with so much at stake.
Santa Clara had the first chance to take the lead in the 11th minute when Mykell Bates' cross from the right floated over everyone and hit off the top side of the crossbar. That opportunistic effort was part of an early Bronco flurry that saw the visitors fire 10 shots in the first 23 minutes.
After Santa Clara's initial flurry, they would only get one more shot the rest of the half as the Lions settled down and nearly took the lead in the 27th minute on an outstanding strike by junior Kyle Johanson. Following a Bronco foul, the Lions' cross was cleared by the defense but only as far as Johanson, who advanced from the midfield to one-time a rocket from 35 yards. Johanson did well to keep the ball down but SCU goalie Kevin Klasila was just as nimble, going high to his left to turn it away for a corner.
Both goalies were busy in the first half, making four saves each, to send the game into the break scoreless.
It would not remain tied for long as Jozkowicz gave the Lions the lead 10 minutes after the restart. An LMU corner was cleared out to junior Logan McDaniel, who had his shot charged down. The rebound fell to Jozkowicz, who threaded the needle from 16 yards through a sea of defenders and low to Klasila's left for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The Lions, who entered the game 8-0-1 on the season when scoring first, quickly went for the jugular. In the 69th minute, freshman duo Christian Alvarado and Connor Hunsicker both had chances to increase the LMU advantage, only to be denied by a double save from Klasila. Alvarado's initial strike from outside the box sent the keeper diving to his right. Hunsicker was quick to pounce on the rebound but elected to go to the near post rather than back across the goal and Klasila sprang to his feet to push it away for a corner.
Those saves would prove pivotal for the Broncos, who equalized and took the lead in a span of 77 seconds. A long ball over the top released Erik Hurtado down the right and his low cross skipped through the box to Connor Mitchell, who had time to settle and finish from eight yards out to even the score. Seconds later, the Broncos attacked down the left, this time with Mitchell pulling the ball back for an advancing Brandon Zimmerman, who kept his shot low for a 2-1 lead.
Having come from behind two weeks ago to tie Santa Clara, LMU battled for the final 13 minutes looking for the equalizer but it would not come. The Lions had three appeals for penalties denied - two on handballs and one when a group of players from both sides went tumbling. Senior Fernando Barba had the Lions' final chance two minutes from time but his curling attempt from 20 yards was right at Klasila.
LMU held an 18-15 advantage in shots and 11-2 in corner kicks but were denied by nine saves from Klasila. Redshirt junior Jack McCormack made four saves for the Lions.
With four matches remaining in the regular season, the Lions head out on the road for the final time next week. First up is a Friday night clash in Portland as both sides look to keep pace with the Broncos. Then it's off to Spokane on Sunday to face Gonzaga.