Lions Play to Scoreless Draw with Santa Clara

Goalkeeper Paul Blanchette made four saves en route to posting a shutout in a draw against Santa Clara on Friday.

Nov. 9, 2012

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU men's soccer team (5-10-4, 3-5-3 WCC) played to a scoreless draw against Santa Clara (10-6-2, 7-2-2 WCC) on a windy Friday afternoon at LMU's Sullivan Field. The evenly-fought match saw LMU finish with a slight 12-11 margin in shots on goal following regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods.

Goalkeepers Paul Blanchette and Larry Jackson each posted shutouts, with LMU's Blanchette recording four saves to Jackson's two. LMU's Pedro Velazquez was the only player booked in the match, earning a yellow at 70:21 for a hard tackle near midfield.

Santa Clara had a pair of early opportunities in the first half, including a heel-flick in the 10th minute that set up a shot from Max Ornstill that was denied on a dive from Blanchette to his right.

LMU got its first real scoring chance in the 22nd minute, earning a free kick from about 30 yards out and toward the far side of the field. Jack McCracken took the set piece, sending a bending ball into the box where Juan De Rada headed it to the near post, but a diving save from Jackson kept the match scoreless.

Santa Clara's Erik Hurtado had a number of scoring opportunities on Friday, taking four shots, including a header in the 34th minute of the first half on a quick cross from the near side that resulted in one of the four saves from the LMU keeper.

After a scoreless first half that saw four shots apiece, LMU won an early corner kick in the second. The Lions, who took four corners on the day, saw McCracken's ball find the head of Craig Nitti, but the header nicked the crossbar as it sailed over the top of the goal.

The match took an interesting turn in the 71st minute as Velazquez was carded for the hard tackle just moments before a ball on the free kick resulted in a Bronco player colliding with center referee, Chris Penso. Penso suffered a gash on his head, ultimately forcing him from the match and sending the fourth referee, Bernhard Hosu, to the center stage.

After the referee swap, Hurtado got another solid look at the goal in the 76th minute for Santa Clara, receiving a long cross to the back post from Phil Muscarella, but the header proved just wide of the goal as LMU escaped unscathed.

Blanchette once again came up clutch for the Lions with about three and a half minutes left to play in regulation, diving to deny a shot from Harrison Hanley to keep the match scoreless and force overtime.

After neither team was able to find the net in the first overtime period, both squads managed to put up a pair of shots in the final period. Santa Clara's best opportunity came when Hurtado received a ball at his feet in the 107th minute, turning and firing a shot from 30 yards out that sailed over the bar and resulted in a collective sigh of relief from the 430 fans in attendance.

With Santa Clara players all pulled into the LMU box with under a minute to play in the match, Jackson sent a ball into the box and retreated toward his goal, only to have it cleared out by the Lions to spark a counterattack. Looking for a heroic last-second match-winner, Connor Gill got the ball at his foot with 21 seconds to play, sending a shot toward the right post where it was denied by a dive from Jackson. The rebound resulted in yet another shot for LMU, but that too missed the target, running wide right as the two teams settled for the draw.

LMU returns to action on Sunday when it hosts Saint Mary's at Noon. LMU will celebrate Senior Day on Sunday, honoring this year's graduating class prior to the match.




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