Tag Archives: Santa Clara

Ollie Johnson holds up a frame with his jersey enclosed in it. Johnson played for USF from 1962-1965, and is now just the sixth Don to have his jersey retired. (Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics)

Men’s Basketball: Dons Edge Out Rival Broncos On Ollie Johnson Night

On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Dons held off a late charge from rival Santa Clara and took home the victory by a score of 75-66. The victory came in large part due to the Dons’ 41-24 rebounding advantage over the Broncos, a fitting performance on Ollie Johnson Night, which  celebrated the USF career of the second all-time rebounder and included the retirement of his jersey.

Senior forward Cole Dickerson led the team with 28 points, seven of which came in the last 6:31 of the game and were key to shutting down a spirited Broncos rally. A Dickerson three-pointer capped a 12-6 Dons run and gave them a 66-54 lead with 3:30 to go. After Santa Clara pushing the lead down to four with a little less a minute remaining, junior forward Kruize Pinkins sealed the game with a dunk off of a pass from sophomore guard Avry Holmes. Pinkins was also fouled on the play, and he hit the free throw to put an exclamation point on his 14-point night. For the Broncos, guard Jared Brownridge led the game in scoring with an efficient 30 points, making eight shots on 14 attempts as well as hitting nine of his 10 free throws.

One of the biggest plays of the night came in the first half as junior guard Matt Glover made an emphatic block that led to a Dickerson layup in transition, giving the Dons a 29-14 lead. The block was the highlight of a strong defensive effort in the first half by the Dons, who held the Broncos to 28.5% shooting and only 22 points in the first 20 minutes of play.

The effort shown in the first half by the Dons also carried over to the second, as Santa Clara ended the game shooting only 39% and scoring only four second-chance points. The final rebound tally told the story, with rebound totals of 13 from Glover and 8 from Dickerson adding fuel to the Dons’ fire.

Head coach Rex Walters was pleased with how the team performed in the game’s most critical moments.

“I loved how our guys stepped up at the end of the game and made plays,” Walters said. “I think of Avry [Holmes] getting double-teamed in the corner but still finding Kruize [Pinkins] for a dunk on the other end. Plays like that are special.”

The night also featured a ceremony for former USF player Ollie Johnson where his number 32 jersey was given its own place in the rafters of War Memorial Gym. The event included an appearance from USF President Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J., who read a letter from United States President Barack Obama that congratulated Johnson for his accomplishment.

“This special tribute is a testament to the lasting mark you have left on the University of San Francisco community,” the letter said. “I hope you take pride in your achievements on and off the court, and I wish you all the best.”

In his three seasons with the team Johnson scored 1,668 points, grabbed 1,323 rebounds, was named WCC Player of the Year twice, and led the team to the NCAA tournament every year. He was selected eighth overall in the 1965 NBA draft by the Boston Celtics but never played for them in a game, instead going on to play for the San Francisco Athletic Club and then overseas in Belgium.

With Ollie Johnson and his group of former teammates watching, the Dons improved to 13-8 with the win over the Broncos. San Francisco will resume play on Wednesday, Jan. 29 when they go up against the University of Portland at 7:00 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.

Men’s Soccer: Liam Kelly Scores on Senior Day in 2-1 Loss to Santa Clara

Seven Dons seniors played their final match at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday, a 2-1 loss to the Santa Clara Broncos. Senior forwards Liam Kelly, Tanner Smith, Michael Shaddock, Brady Jimison and midfielders Gerry Vera, Vegard Karlsen and Mauricio Diaz De Leon were honored before the game with flowers and an announcement of their accomplishments. Team captain Diaz De Leon, who was an All-West Coast Conference (WCC) First Team honoree in 2012, an All-WCC Honorable Mention in 2011 and a WCC All-Freshman Team honoree in 2010, was accompanied by USF president Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J. as he received his senior bouquet.

“I’m proud of our guys. The seniors played well,” Head Coach Erik Visser told USFDons.com.

Kelly scored his second goal of the season about 12 minutes into his final match, chipping the ball into the net from about five feet away off a pass from freshman defender Christian De Luna. The Dons would keep the 1-0 lead for just a few minutes — Santa Clara tied the game in the 16th minute when Michael Gates snuck the ball past USF goalkeeper redshirt freshman Connor Gaal immediately after entering the game from the bench.

In the 23rd minute Diaz de Leon nearly regained the lead for the Dons on a corner kick that rebounded into a shot opportunity, but his shot was saved by Bronco goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh.

The score was tied 1-1 at halftime, after which both teams ramped up the energy in their quest for the lead. A shot in the 63rd minute by sophomore defender Joshua Smith

looked like a goal for the Dons, but the ball was determined to have just missed crossing the line into the net. A couple minutes later Santa Clara scored a clear goal on a penalty kick into the top of the net by Mark Daus after a foul was called on the Dons’ redshirt sophomore defender Kevin Gould.

“It comes down to details and the second half we had one or two really good looks at the goal,” Visser said. “I thought maybe one was a goal, and really out of nowhere we gave them an opportunity on a penalty kick and they took advantage of it.”

One more shot on goal by Kelley in the 82nd minute turned out to be the Dons’ last attempt to tie it up before time ran out. McIntosh was able to get in front of the shot, securing the win for the Broncos.

“It was a game that we definitely deserved to win but in the big picture it comes down to a couple of mental mistakes here and there,” Visser said. “I give Santa Clara a lot of credit coming here. They did what they had to do to win.”The Dons will face Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. on Nov. 15 at 2 p.m. They will finish out their season in Portland, Ore. against the University of Portland Pilots on Nov. 17 at 12 p.m. in the WCC Game of the Week.

Dons Defeated by Santa Clara, Draw Against St. Mary’s in Moraga

The San Francisco Dons bounced back from a tough loss to Santa Clara on Friday, tying the Saint Mary’s Gaels 1-1 on Sunday afternoon in Moraga, CA.

Sophomore forward Miguel Aguilar’s goal in the 57th minute gave the Dons a 1-0 lead that they were unable to hold on to, as the Gaels’ Trevor Newquist found the net on a header in the 80th minute.

The tie gave USF a 5-7-4 (3-5-2 WCC) record on the season, while Saint Mary’s moved to 9-3-5 (5-2-3 WCC).

After a scoreless first half, the Dons rushed out of the gate and began the second 45-minute period by putting pressure on the Gaels defense. The result was a goal and a chance to secure what many would consider an upset win, but following Aguilar’s successful shot, Saint Mary’s mounted an attack of their own. They seized the momentum and found the elusive equalizer that they were looking for just 10 minutes away from what could have been a victory for the Dons. Instead, the teams battled through two overtime periods, with neither squad able to capitalize on their opportunities.

The Dons, having played their last road game of the year, will finish the season with two upcoming home games against Gonzaga on Nov. 9, and Portland on Nov. 11. Returning to Negoesco Stadium gives San Francisco a chance to end the season on an upswing, as they have amassed a 3-3-1 record at home this year, compared to just 2-4-3 on the road.

Although USF settled for a tie against Saint Mary’s, the result was a definite improvement upon the heartbreaking 1-0 loss that the Dons suffered at the hands of the Santa Clara Broncos on Friday night in San Francisco.

Phillip Muscarella’s header in the 86th minute of Friday’s match found the back of the net and prevented the game from advancing into an overtime period. Santa Clara improved to 10-6-1 (7-2-1 WCC) on the season, and the Dons were unable to win for the fourth game in a row.

The first half of the match was evenly played and defense-oriented as neither team was presented with any breakaway chances to score. The tempo and action picked up in the second half, as sophomore midfielders Danny Kirkland and Kyle Macleod nearly gave USF the lead, but the Broncos goalkeeper Larry Jackson held steady and protected the goal. Late in the second period, Santa Clara’s offense launched a ferocious attack and threatened Dons goalkeeper Brendan Roslund on multiple occasions. After a persistent defensive stand from San Francisco, the attack unfortunately culminated in Muscarella’s goal, his first of the season, which came off of a well-placed cross from Harrison Hanley and shattered the Dons’ hopes of emerging from the match with a tie or victory.

“We know we’re a dangerous team,” Roslund said. “We’re just waiting for the game when we break through and score goals by the bunches.”

The Dons, who were outshot 11 to 10 by Santa Clara, looked to gain an advantage in the 75th minute when the Broncos’ Jared Hegart was red-carded. However, even playing with a man down, Santa Clara remained aggressive and offense-focused, and after many close calls the Dons defense finally allowed the go-ahead goal.

A positive aspect of USF’s play was their ability to neutralize Broncos leading goal-scorer Erik Hutardo, who was unable to score despite his five attempts on goal.

Due to their struggles in recent games, the Dons feel that they have something to prove in their last three matches of the year.

“We need to have some personal pride as a team, and we need to go out with a strong ending to these last few games,” Roslund said.

With their well-played 1-1 tie against Saint Mary’s on Sunday and two winnable games next weekend, the Dons are on their way to doing just that.

Several Dons Victorious in 9th Annual Hilltop Cup Boxing Tournament


This past Friday, 32 fighters from 17 different clubs descended upon War Memorial Gym for the 9th Annual Hilltop Cup, the largest amateur boxing tournament in California. Boxers from all corners of the United States turned out to test their mettle in the ring for three furious two-minute rounds. As the host, USF Boxing was well represented with nine fighters donning the Green and Gold on Friday night against challengers from Santa Clara University, Emory University, the University of Hawaii, the University of Maryland, Old School Boxing Club, West Coast Boxing Club and the United States Navy. While USF fighters went 4-5 on the night, the fight of the night belonged to USF’s Nargis Shaghasi and Valeri Lo from the University of Hawaii in the night’s 14th bout.

Shaghasi, fighting out of the red corner, was under duress early as her opponent Lo threw twice as many punches in the first round. Nevertheless, Shaghasi was able to counter and jab her way to a slim lead after the opening round by throwing more disciplined punches than Lo. Continuing her all out assault against Shaghasi, Lo stayed true to her first round performance and pressed early in the second round. After trading blow for blow in the evenly matched bout, Shaghasi gave the crowd what they wanted halfway through the second round, courtesy of a vicious uppercut. The quick, powerful strike sent Lo to the floor and the crowd to their feet, cheering thunderously for the local favorite, who was victorious by knockout.

Shaghasi’s knockout of Lo was the second USF victory by way of K.O. on the night, as Mark Cabreto defended the Hilltop against Ronald Manuel of Santa Clara in the night’s fourth bout by knocking the Bronco to the mat and out of the fight. USF also tallied wins against the University of Maryland and the Old School Boxing Club, as Daniyar Tuyakbayev and Sebastian Doerner, respectfully, won on the judge’s score cards after exchanging blows with their challengers for three grueling rounds.

Friday night also saw one championship contest between defending champ and USF fighter Adrianna Boursalian and Leanna Racine from Emory University in Atlanta. Both fighters drew blood in what was the evenings most closely contested bout , and after four rounds, the judges scorecards were not kind to Boursalian, who lost the fight that, judging by the hail of booing from the crowd, many thought she had won.
The two smallest boxers at the Cup, 11-year-old Adrian Ramos of the 415 Boxing Club and 10-year-old Dante Kirkham of the B St. Boxing Club, sparred to the soundtrack of righteous cheering from the crowd, marveling as the pint sized fighters engaged each other with frightening ferocity in the opening bout. The older, heavier Ramos won by judges decision and had everyone smiling as the big kids stepped into the ring, with the biggest of them fighting in the 10th bout of the night. Weighting in at 193 pounds, Matt Rodriguez, fighting for the home team, touched gloves with Jesse Grano, the 190 pound sailor fighting on behalf of the U.S. Navy. The two amateur heavyweights exchanged deafening blows as gloves met flesh, but after three rounds, Grano had bested Rodriguez.

Along with being an excellent exhibition of amateur and collegiate boxing, Hilltop Cup IX had a charitable aspect to it. Proceeds from the event went to help the West Bay Filipino Multi-Service Center, a San Francisco based non-profit helping ethnic minorities with health care, education and day care. With over 1,000 attendees, Hilltop Cup IX was an overwhelming success for all parties, no matter which corner they stood in.

SF to Lose Historic Candlestick Park with 49er Move to Santa Clara

It’s January 14, 2012, and Candlestick Park is rocking for the San Francisco 49ers first playoff game in 9 years. Despite having home field advantage for the division playoff round, San Francisco is the underdog against the high octane New Orleans Saints.

The team seems poised for their first trip to the NFC Championship game since 1995. The 49ers were unable to hold on to the lead, however, and found themselves down, 32-29, in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. With just nine seconds remaining, quarterback Alex Smith rifled a pass right to tight end Vernon Davis for a game winning touchdown. As the crowd of nearly 70,000 went into frenzy, and Davis shed tears of joy, the 49ers had given Candlestick Park perhaps its one last shining moment.

Three months later, Candlestick Park is empty. It’s the mid afternoon, and the light rain makes Candlestick even bleaker than usual. A brief glimpse of the notorious Candlestick winds helps make the air even colder. The baseball season has just begun, but there is no roar from the bleachers. The stadium that once housed Juan Marichal and Willie Mays has been permanently silent during spring since 2000.

That was the year the San Francisco Giants moved to the state-of-the art AT&T Park. It was the vibrant AT&T Park that saw the Giants capture their first World Series since moving to San Francisco. While the area around AT&T has become a hotpot for nightlife, Candlestick is saddled amongst the urban decay of Hunter’s Point.

In its 52 year existence, Candlestick Park has been witness to some of the greatest moments in sports history. It was the home stadium of baseball greats from Willie Mays to Barry Bonds. It housed Joe Montana and Steve Young, and was the site of the most famous catch in NFL history. Beyond sports, it became a cultural landmark, and welcomed the Beatles for their final full concert.

The “Stick”, as its affectionately known, lost much of its importance when the San Francisco Giants left twelve seasons ago. Now, with the San Francisco 49ers set to leave in 2014 for Santa Clara, Candlestick faces permanent irrelevancy.

While Candlestick Park has been witness to many defining sports moments, the “Stick” was never an architectural land mark. The park was opened in 1960 to accommodate the Giants, who had moved to San Francisco from New York just two years earlier. The first pitch ever thrown at the stadium came from the arm of then-vice president Richard M. Nixon.

“It was built at a time when people didn’t care that much about making something feel really good,” said San Francisco Chronicle urban design critic John King. “They just wanted something big and new. It never had a lot of charm to it.”

In its first year of operation, Candlestick temporarily housed the Oakland Raiders of the upstart AFL, while the 49ers remained at Kezar Stadium. However the stadium’s first monumental event was not a sporting event at all. On Aug. 29, 1966, Candlestick Park welcomed the Beatles. It would be the legendary band’s last live commercial concert. The band ripped through an 11 song set list in 35 minutes before saying goodbye for good.

It didn’t take long for the Candlestick to gain notoriety for its most famous feature: the ferocious winds. The park hosted the 1961 All-Star game, in which pitcher Stu Miller was swept off the mound by a mammoth gust of wind. The wind didn’t affect just the players; it left fans unbearably cold atop the Candlestick bleachers. Starting in 1983, the stadium began handing out the “Croix de Candlestick”, a pin that was awarded to any spectator who managed to stay during the extra innings of a Giants night game.

“The Croix de Candlestick symbolized that you were a true Giants fan,” said John Quebedeaux, a fan who’s lived in San Francisco for upwards of 30 years.
In 1971, the 49ers finally moved out of Kezar and into Candlestick, but not before the city spent $16 million to make the Stick more compatible for football. While their first season was a success, culminating in an appearance in the NFC title game, the 49ers spent much of the 1970’s near the bottom of the NFC standings.

Their fortunes didn’t change until they drafted a young quarterback from Notre Dame named Joe Montana in the third round of the 1979 NFL draft. In 1981, Montana led the 49ers to a NFC championship bout against the Dallas Cowboys at Candlestick. With the 49ers trailing late in the game, Montana threw a desperate heave near the back of end zone. Tight end Dwight Clark leaped up and made an improbable touchdown grab that will forever go down in NFL lore as simply “The Catch”.

“A good friend of mine was there and said you could feel the ground shake and the upper deck was moving,” said Ted Johnson, former beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers.

“That’s what happens when 60,000 people start jumping at the same time.”
“That was the game that really put the 49ers on the map,” said Quebedeaux.

For the next decade and a half, the 49ers would become the dominant superpower
of the NFL, winning 5 Super Bowl championships and making Candlestick the center of the professional football world. During this time period, Candlestick also was center stage for one of the most terrifying moments in San Francisco history. On Oct.17, 1989, the San Francisco Giants were set to face the Oakland Athletics in Game 3 of the World Series. At 5:04 local time, the ground began to shake.

“I was covering the World Series for the news section,” said longtime San Francisco Chronicle writer Carl Nolte. “The guy sitting next to me, he looked at me, his eyes got real big, and he said, ‘Earthquake!’. Some people were saying that the Bay Bridge was falling down. I said ‘Are you kidding? Get out of here.’ Well, we found out it was true. And we could see the Marina burning, and we thought that we better get out of here.”

The Loma Prieta earthquake would ultimately result in 63 deaths. The Giants would eventually lose the World Series, which was postponed 10 days after the tragedy.

In recent years, the venerable park has become more notable for its dilapidated state. Last December, the lights went out at Candlestick right before the 49er’s Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, delaying the start of the game for over 30 minutes.

“Last year I saw Cal play Fresno State, and I thought what a dump this is,” says Nolte of his last visit to Candlestick. “Hard to get to, bad neighborhood, all kinds of stuff.”
Rory Brown, Bleacher Report Director of Content Operations and a Mountain View native, also isn’t impressed by the Stick’s current structure.

“It’s almost better just to watch the 49ers games on television,” he said. In addition, the out of the way location of Candlestick made traveling to the park a hassle for fans and media alike.

“Covering the 49ers was good work but after a while the most important thing in your arsenal was not the tape recorder or note book, or even the press credential. It was the parking pass,” said Johnson. “It’s such a b— to get in and out of the parking lot.”

At one point, it seemed almost unfathomable that the 49ers would leave San Francisco to build a new stadium. In 1997, San Francisco voters approved $100 million dollars in city spending to build a new stadium and shopping mall at Candlestick Point. However, the plan failed to gain any traction for several years.

The pressure heightened for a new stadium to be built in 2006, as then mayor Gavin Newsom wanted it to be the centerpiece of San Francisco’s 2016 Olympic bid. However, with concerns over the viability of Candlestick Point and a lack of other options in San Francisco, the team switched its focus to Santa Clara.

“There was a sense of inevitability that the 49ers would stay in San Francisco,” King said. “Then, all the sudden the team announced they were looking at Santa Clara and it caught everybody by surprise.” The San Francisco 49ers broke ground on their new stadium on April 19, 2012, with hopes to complete it in time for the 2014 NFL season. Conservative estimates put its cost at $1.2 billion.

The 49ers impending departure will be particularly tough for the residents of Hunters Point. Legislators had hoped that a new stadium would help revitalize the struggling Hunter’s Point community.

“People saw how AT&T Park really brought the Mission Bay district to life,” King said. “You’d hope that would happen to Hunters Point too.”

Regardless, Lennar Urban, which is overseeing the redevelopment of the area, is trudging along, planning an ambitious $400 million overhaul of the Hunters View housing project. It’s this plan that will put the final coffin in Candlestick Park; Kofi Bonner, the President of Lennar Urban, told the San Francisco Examiner that his company will start negotiating with the city to demolish Candlestick once the 49ers leave town.

Despite their love-hate relationship with Candlestick Park, many San Franciscans will miss having their very own football team. “The 49ers leaving San Francisco is a tragedy, disaster, awful,” said Nolte. “The 49ers are the original homegrown, major league team.”

“I think losing a football team makes San Francisco a little less diverse,” John King said. “The city is so known for being a certain kind of way, a bastion of left-wing politics, and the 49ers are an antidote to that.”

“San Francisco may not be one of the greatest sports towns in terms of having a large, passionate fan base, but there are a good number of committed fans that will be sad to see it go,” said Rory Brown.
However, all hope is not lost for local fans.

“For me, part of the experience of being a fan is to be able to be with my friends and family and have a great time,” said Meena Naik, a second generation Indian-American whose family resides in the Bay Area. “I’ll still be able to do that in Santa Clara.”

After all, sports, as much as anything, is about creating memories. Candlestick, the old, graying building that it is, has created many indelible images in its lifetime; 49ers fans can only hope the team’s new home will create a history as rich as the Stick.

Dons White Out the Hilltop in Win Over Santa Clara

By Tala Dayyat

War Memorial Gymnasium was filled with students and alumni as the Dons men’s basketball team faced off against one of its biggest rivals, the Santa Clara Broncos. The energy in the stadium was electrifying as the game began because everyone knew it was a special event for the University of San Francisco community. The game was televised by ESPNU, the first time a USF sporting event has ever been nationally broadcasted. The game was also notable due to every audience member’s white attire, part of the “White out the Hilltop” event. The game ended with a huge turnaround by the Don’s in the second half, resulting in a win with a score of 85 to 69.

The men’s team had a rough start with the defense in the first half, struggling to keep up with the Broncos power offense, who began the game with an almost immediate 11 point lead. Both sides got extremely physical as well, with players like Angelo Caloiaro being fouled hard by SCUs aggressive defense. The first half ended with the Dons trailing with 38 points for the Broncos and 32 for the Dons. In the second half the men came back stronger, with more assists, rebounds and steals. Cody Doolin coming from the first half with only 4 points scored lead the team with 21 points and 7 assists, sinking those three point shots with ease. Doolin stated that there was a “slow response” in the beginning of the game and that it was a “lacksidasical” first half. However he and his teammates brought it together in the second half “And I’m glad we did!”, he stated happily after the game.

When asked about Santa Clara’s performance during the game and this season, Doolin stated that “they had some heavy losses” in regards to their teammates and that in the end “It doesn’t matter what the records are, they have an amazing team”. He enthusiastically explained his admiration for Santa Clara’s team and wished them all the best. Angelo Caloiaro said, “It was a rivalry game…that the intensity would be higher in a game like this”.

“Its players who win games and coaches who lose them” Coach Rex Walters explained, when asked how he feels about his team’s victorious ending. Coach Walters was also a part of a big milestone here in Memorial gym as it is the 500th Don victory tonight against our bay area rival. When asked about this win coach humbled himself to his team and said this was their victory. Coach Walters mimicked the response his players had in regards to Santa Clara stating that they effectively knew how to “put us on our heels” and “were able to stick to a game plan”

The win tonight was a good start to a very tough line up for the USF Dons, who will be playing University of San Diego, BYU, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the coming weeks, leading up to the WCC tournament in Las Vegas in three weeks time.