|Rast at rest: But not on his laurels. He has high hopes for next season.
Photo: Denis Concordel
A conference championship, 100 career victories, and coach of the year for Cameron Rast '92
It was a season of milestones for Santa Clara men's soccer coach Cameron Rast '92. He notched his 100th career head coaching victory. His team won the fourth West Coast Conference championship of his nine-year head coaching tenure and returned to the NCAA playoffs after a rare two-year absence. And his peers named him WCC Coach of the Year, the fourth time he's received the honor.
Things hadn't looked nearly so bright at the season's start. In September, the team stumbled to four losses in its first six games, validating a coaches' poll that forecast the Broncos to finish a distant fifth in the seven-member WCC, the lowest preseason ranking ever. It was an eye-opener to how they'd fallen in some peoples' minds, Rast says.
But after the shaky start, Rast pushed his players into more aggressive, goal-minded tactics, and the team rallied behind him, losing just once in its final 14 outings and going 7–1–4 in WCC play.
"If you're not doing well you can sit around and feel bad about it, or you can do what you need to do to change," he says. "Our guys did a great job of owning the lack of success and doing what it took to win."
Rast's recent accolades are just the latest addition to a résumé that goes back two decades at Santa Clara. As a player, the Southern California recruit spearheaded SCU's 1989 NCAA national co-championship squad which, more than 20 years later, remains the last Division I men's soccer team to go undefeated.
The team matched ferocious scoring power with stingy defense—and Rast was key to both. As sweeper, he anchored the defense alongside twin brother Matt Rast '92. But he proved almost as good at scoring goals as stopping them.
He tallied 11 goals in 1989, most of them from the penalty spot, and was second in scoring only to teammate and future MLS star Paul Bravo '93. In the two decades since, only one Bronco of any position has surpassed the total that Rast scored as a defender that year. (That honor belongs to Jamil Walker '04.) In 1991, Rast again captained the Broncos to the NCAA finals.
A two-time All-American in college, Rast went on to win gold at the 1991 Pan-American Games, to captain the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team in Barcelona, and to coach the U.S. Under-17 National team. Through it all, his connection to Santa Clara has gone virtually uninterrupted.
In 1994, he began as an assistant coach for the program, taking over the top position in 2002. In 2003, he guided Santa Clara back to their fifth appearance in the College Cup, soccer's Final Four. In 2006, he was inducted into Santa Clara's Athletic Hall of Fame.
As coach, he continues the legacy of top-flight soccer at SCU that he helped establish as a player. He doesn't have to look far for others who've been to the top. His coaching staff includes assistant head coach Eric Yamamoto '90, goalkeeper on the '89 squad, and volunteer assistant Jeff Baicher '91, the star playmaker of the championship team.
His goal as coach is to take the team back to the College Cup. Next year with most of his players returning, he likes his team's chances.
"The goal every year for us is getting there that final weekend," he says. "If you're playing well, anything can happen."
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