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SCU soccer coach gets 300th victory
By Dylan Hernandez
Brandi Chastain knew she was taking a gamble by using most of her Friday afternoon to bake a cake. What if her husband, Santa Clara women's soccer coach Jerry Smith, did not win the 300th game of his career that evening?
``I was honestly trying not to jinx anything,'' said Chastain, a former U.S. national team star. ``But you've got to have a little faith.''
The Broncos spared Chastain from baking another day, defeating St. Louis 2-1 at Buck Shaw Stadium to make Smith the third NCAA Division I coach to reach the milestone. Only Anson Dorrance of North Carolina (588) and Len Tsantiris of Connecticut (422) have more victories.
Smith, 44, played it down -- ``Three hundred wins will be something for me to look back on'' -- but everyone else knew this was historic.
``We were determined to win for Jerry,'' said forward Meagan Snell, who scored one Broncos goal and assisted on the other. ``He's done so much for us.''
In 19 seasons Smith has compiled a 300-75-25 record, elevating the program from a small Jesuit university into one of the country's best. He led the Broncos to a national championship in 2001, and to at least the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest current streak in the nation.
``I'm very proud of the fact that Jerry did it all at Santa Clara,'' Athletic Director Dan Coonan said. ``It's terrific for us. He loves Santa Clara. He's not the guy that's going to flirt with other schools every year, like so many coaches who achieve that level of success.''
There was a ceremony at midfield after the game. Coonan presented Smith with a commemorative jersey; Chastain brought out her giant cake. Smith thanked all of his former assistant coaches and players, saying, ``No one person won these 300 games. That I'm the one constant here for 19 years means one thing: I'm getting old.''
There was another sign of that -- his complete unawareness of a bucket of water being brought over his head by forward Tina Estrada and midfielder Tiffany Roberts.
``And even when I saw it, I couldn't move out of the way,'' the coach lamented.
Though fifth-ranked Santa Clara (6-1-1) jumped out to a two-goal lead, Smith was not particularly pleased with his players, saying they let down because they were facing an unranked opponent.
Snell opened the scoring in the 15th minute when she collected a rebound off a Jordan Angeli free kick. Snell's first attempt was blocked by St. Louis goalkeeper Abby Goellner, but her second was not.
Twenty minutes later, Snell's pass to an unattended-to Brittany Klein brought an easy finish and a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis got on the board in the final minute of the first half, on a penalty kick by Kelly Ferguson.