Reading week is over. The real exams are coming.
After outscoring their past three opponents 12-1, the Elis (4-2, 0-0 Ivy) will see just how good they are when they take on a pair of perennial powers at the Santa Clara Adidas Classic this weekend.
First up will be sixth-ranked Stanford (6-0-1) on Friday night, followed by a game against Santa Clara (3-4) on Sunday afternoon.
This weekend’s games will be a departure from the Elis’ previous competition. Stanford is undefeated so far this season, drawing only to no. 4 North Carolina in a grueling 1-1 double-overtime match. Meanwhile, Santa Clara started off the season as pre-season No. 5 before falling out of the NSCAA/Adidas top 25. That drop-off is deceiving, however, because the Broncos have lost tough matches to three of the top four teams in the nation.
So far this season, Stanford has outscored its opponents 19-2, while outshooting its opponents 149-50. Withstanding the Cardinal offensive juggernaut will be key if the Elis hope to sneak away with a win. The first half will be especially crucial to keeping the Bulldogs in the game, since Stanford has scored 13 of its 19 goals in the first half.
As for Santa Clara, the Broncos will finally return home after playing their first seven games on the road. The hunger that comes from those close wins as well as the roars of the home crowd will surely provide a tough test for the Bulldogs. As a perennial power over the past decade, Santa Clara boasts the top-ranked senior class, as well as a top-10 recruiting class this year.
Against the athleticism and offensive prowess of the two teams they will face this weekend, the Elis must play smart ball, with good runs and crisp passes to set up scoring opportunities. Most important, they must capitalize on their rare scoring chances.
The goalkeeping of Ayana Sumiyasu ’11 — who was chosen as the Ivy League Player of the Week after saving 14 shots against UConn on Sept. 5 — will be vital to keeping the Bulldogs in the game.
With the way that the offense has been clicking in recent matches, if the Bulldogs can just keep the game close in the closing seconds, they should not be counted out.