Men's soccer earns 1-0 win over Santa Clara to claim the WCC Championship and automatic bid to NCAA tournament.
Nov. 15, 2013
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - All they needed was a tie. But nothing this season has been about settling.
Juan De Rada found the back of the net for the fifth time this season, Paul Blanchette posted his LMU single-season record seventh shutout and the LMU men's soccer team clinched its first-ever outright West Coast Conference title with a 1-0 win at Santa Clara Friday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
The Lions, who conclude the regular-season at 13-4-2 and 9-2-1 in the WCC, also earn the league's automatic berth into the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The baker's dozen win total is the second most ever in program history while the NCAA Tournament appearance will be the Lions' sixth and first since 2009.
Holding a four point lead in the WCC standings over the second place Broncos headed into Friday's season-finale, the Lions needed just a one-point draw to secure their second league title in four years. But tie was clearly nowhere in the minds of the LMU squad that took the field Friday night.
LMU dominated possession in the first half, spending most of the period in the Broncos' end and holding an 8-1 shot advantage in the frame. They did nothing but build momentum to open the second half as Leon Prikhodovskiy had a clear left-footed shot to the near post that Santa Clara goalkeeper Kellen McIntosh was just able to dive and knock away in the 48th minute.
A flurry of action in the Broncos' box in the 69th minute was a sign of what was soon to come as a De Rada shot from eight yards out was sent just high after deflecting off a Santa Clara defender.
Then came the goal. Mark Dotseth gained possession of the ball on the left flank and sent a loss cross from the left corner. His centering pass went untouched across the goalmouth and all the way to the far post where De Rada one-touched it into the right corner netting at the 69:33 mark.
The Broncos' Michael Gates would get off a pair of shots just inside the 85-minute mark, but one attempt went wide and the other was saved by Blanchette to preserve the win and shutout.
The Lions will return home to Los Angeles and await Monday morning's NCAA Men's Soccer Selection Show, which will air live at noon Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific, at NCAA.com.