Why Santa Clara is Secretly Successful

While Santa Clara hasn’t won the NCAA Championship since 2001, they’ve been pumping out incredible soccer stars that go on to have amazing professional careers- some even winning Gold Medals and becoming World Cup Champions. They might not be the best at winning trophies, but to be fair, no one gives out trophies for producing soccer players that go on to be superstars, for not only professional teams, but for National Teams as well.

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1) Brandi Chastain. Everyone who watches women’s soccer knows who this player is- and what she’s done for the game. She’s most well known for her winning PK attempt in the 1999 Women’s World Cup- but her career started at Santa Clara. In her time at Santa Clara she scored an incredible 32 goals and helped lead the Broncos to two consecutive Final Four NCAA College Cup appearances in 1989 and 1990. After graduating, she moved into her professional career where she played for 4 different clubs- Shiroki FC Serena, San Jose CyberRays, FC Gold Pride, ending her career at California Storm. She’s had 192 appearances for the United States Women’s National Team, netting 30 goals. Chastain has won two World Cups, two Gold Medals, and was recently inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

2) Marian Dougherty. One of the best defenders that’s graduated from Santa Clara, this player had 14 goals and 10 assists in her college years, earning the captain’s armband in her junior year, along with leading the West Coast Conference defenders with 6 goals and 6 assists in her senior year. She then went to play professional for Denver Diamonds with 6 goals, Chicago Red Stars with 1 goal in 40 appearances, magicJack with 18 appearances, and finally ending her career at the Portland Thorns with 19 appearances and 1 goal. She was also apart of the National Team from 2007-2009, with 11 appearances, including being named to the roster of the 2007 Women’s World Cup.  

3) Sofia Huerta. Arguably one of the best careers at Santa Clara, this four year starter had 47 goals and 19 assists in her college career, along with winning co-player of the year in the Western Coast Conference in 2014. After graduating she went straight into the Chicago Red Stars team, where she still plays today. In her 45 appearances she’s recorded 13 goals, and was a finalist for the NWSL Rookie of the Year along with Sam Mewis and Danielle Colaprico. During the off season of NWSL, Huerta was sent on a loan for Adelaide United with 12 appearances and 8 goals. While she plays for Mexico’s National Team, with 4 appearances and 2 goals, it was announced earlier this week that the United States Soccer Federation submitted a request to FIFA to change Huerta’s affiliation from Mexico to the United States.

4) Julie Ertz. Formally known as Julie Johnston, Ertz played at Santa Clara from 2010-2013, earning 79 appearance and netting 31 goals, playing alongside her Chicago Red Stars teammate- Sofia Huerta. She was the 1st round draft pick in 2014, chosen by the Chicago Red Stars, where she is currently in her fourth season. In more than 50 appearances, she’s scored 4 goals as a converted defender, and helped led her team to the 2016 NWSL Semifinal. She earned her first appearance for the USWNT against Scotland in 2013, seeing out a 4-1 win. Since then, she’s had 49 appearances and 8 goals for the national team, winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 She Believes Cup.

5) Leslie Osborne. This midfielder played at Santa Clara from 2001-2004, winning the 2001 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship, later returning to coach the Santa Clara Women’s Soccer Team for several years. She’s played for a number of teams, including Chicago Cobras, California Storm, FC Gold Pride, Chicago Red Stars, and Boston- where she made her career high of 34 appearances. She also played internationally for the United States in 2004-2008, earning 61 caps and netting 3 goals.

6) Danielle Slaton. In her 84 appearances at Santa Clara, she’s recorded 8 goals and a whopping 34 assists. After her college days, Slaton played for the Carolina Courage, and then moved on to Olympique Lyon- one of the best women’s teams in France. She earned her first cap for the USWNT in 1999, netting her first goal in January of 2000 in a game against Australia. She played on the national team for 5 years, earning a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games, and then taking third place in the 2003 World Cup.

7) Aly Wagner. Playing from 1998-2002 as a Bronco, Wagner only made 23 appearances for Santa Clara- but out of those came 10 goals and 12 assists. In 2001, Wagner led her team to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship scoring the winning goal against North Carolina. After graduation, she played for 3 teams- San Diego Spirit with 20 appearances and 2 goals, Olympique Lyon with 3 appearances and 2 goals, and ending her career at Los Angeles Sol with 15 appearances. On the USWNT, Wagner has 131 appearances, 21 goals and 42 assists, earning two Gold Medals along the way.

Throughout the years, Santa Clara has been successfully- but not in a way that you would expect. I’m only speaking for myself, but I’d rather have a college pump out incredible player after player that then goes on to represent our country, than a college that can win another trophy to put in their cabinet in the back of their auditorium. While they only produce an amazing player every few years, it’s still fascinating to look at what all they’ve done for the USWNT and professional soccer in general. If they didn’t give us Brandi Chastain, Julie Ertz, and Aly Wagner, who knows how many World Cups and Gold Medals the United States would have? No offence to the colleges who know how to win trophies, but I’d rather have National Team material than a trophy that’s just going to collect dust.


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