Seven games remain in the season for the Santa Clara University Lady Broncos women’s soccer team. On Friday, they begin the last stretch of games that will test their unity. Friday, they play at Portland and Sunday the team plays in the Northwest at Gonzaga. The Lady Broncos are 1-1 in conference play this season. The team lost 5-0 at home on Friday against division rival Pepperdine. Thus, these last seven games are crucial for Kellie Peay, Kelsey Turnbow, and Maddy Gonzalez.
The Lady Broncos are 2-4 on the road this season. Senior defender Kellie Peay feels confident that the team has the mental toughness to defeat their divisional opponents this last stretch of the season. Peay mentions “having the weekend we just had at home with Pepperdine, we are just thinking about winning. We can beat these teams on the road, Gonzaga has been doing well at home and Portland is always tough to play at home”. Peay is nearing the end of her playing career at Santa Clara University. The Arizona native has been paramount in the backline for the past four years. Peay has played 78 games for SCU and mentions that legendary coach Jerry Smith has been instrumental in developing not only her game but her mental toughness. Peay mentions “I have learned a lot from Jerry. One thing is that great things do not come easy, he is hard on us, but that is because he knows how good we are and carrying that to whatever I do whether that is in a professional working environment or playing professionally, nothing is going to come easy. He taught me that if you work hard enough and you believe in yourself that you can do it, that you can achieve it.” Smith for three decades has been a mentor at SCU. Peay feels that Smith has provided an outstanding soccer program that has given her learning experiences that have shaped her life. The next seven games are crucial for the standout. She faces along with her teammates at a test of perseverance. Her schooling will be fundamental in establishing her approach in this last stretch of the season. On Friday, Peay will leave Portland for the last time as a Bronco.
Santa Clara has two new attacking minded forwards that will be instrumental on Friday. Freshman Kelsey Turnbow in her first season has been remarkable demonstrating outstanding ball control on the pitch. Turnbow feels that Smith’s mentoring has been defining in her early career. Turnbow mentions “Jerry always pulls out a life lesson for us, a motivator or something to learn from which is something that stands out to me.” This Friday SCU faces a 0-2 divisional opponent while on Sunday a Gonzaga team that is 1-1 in the division and is fighting to move up with a victory over Broncos. Turnbow feels that she has grown along with her teammates this season. SCU has faced the top teams in the nation such as UCLA, CAL, USC, Notre Dame and Stanford. Turnbow feels that having played tough teams early in the season have given them the experience to face any challenge. Turnbow mentions “despite wins or losses, we have been growing as a team, and our growth is going to continue in these games.”
Santa Rosa native Maddy Gonzalez in her second year at SCU feels ready for the challenge. Gonzalez a sophomore majoring in public health science is excited to go on the road this last stretch. Gonzalez mentions “wins can boost our confidence and can be a good push for the end of the season and hopefully lead us to next level.” Maddy in her second season is using her mental toughness to catapult her this season. Gonzalez last year gained a lot of experience going through the toughest schedule in program history. The team made it to the elite eight and was an essential contributor to the success of the team. Gonzalez, these next two road games in Portland and at Gonzaga, will seek to lift the team atop the division.
Turnbow and Gonzalez are natural goal scorers with outstanding individual skillsets. The young strikers are fundamental in the Bronco attack. Smith has started them in the lineup, and the two attackers have delivered with goals and assists this season. Peay is nearing the end of her career and will be an encouraging force on the field. There is a lot at stake in these next games. Jerry Smith, a strategist, and mentor has this trio inspired.
You can watch the games on the Western Athletic Conference website.
Photos: Santa Clara University