Your Favorite Turf

In a new video, Brandi Chastain ’91 reveals her favorite soccer field. Her pick may surprise fans.

Brandi Chastain’s favorite soccer field isn’t the one you might expect.

The 1991 Santa Clara grad and soccer star attained immortality on the global sports stage when she kicked the tiebreaker shootout goal that won the United States the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999. Her spontaneous sports-bra-baring celebration—clenched fists and arms flexed—became an iconic image in women’s athletic achievement.

That match, versus China, was played in the 92,000-seat Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. So you might imagine that’s her favorite soccer field.

It isn’t.


In an entertaining new video  about the women’s soccer program at Santa Clara, Chastain says flatly that she would take the Broncos’ home turf, Buck Shaw Field, over “being in the Rose Bowl for the World Cup in 1999.”

The two-time All-American now serves as volunteer assistant to head coach Jerry Smith, who was her coach when she played for the Broncos.

Some current Broncos players and alumnae also rhapsodize about Buck Shaw’s stadium and field in the video. As Assistant Head Coach Gregg Murphy puts it, “The surface is like playing on a pool table.”

Julie Johnston ’14, the rookie phenomenon of the 2015 World Cup for the victorious U.S. Women’s National Team, speaks of how her collegiate career and Coach Smith prepared her for international competition: “I’m more confident going out into the world,” she says. Indeed—this year—conquering it.

The video is not all about athletics, though. Former and current pro players—from Mandy Clemens ’99 to Sofia Huerta ’15—talk about how coaching and the program’s support system allow students to thrive academically as well as athletically.

This is the inaugural season for the new Stevens Soccer Training Facility—a building that provides world-class environs for prep and game review.

The women play their first game on Buck Shaw Field in the renovated Stevens Stadium on Sept. 11 against Oklahoma. Santa Clara entered the weekend 3-2-0. In the West Coast Conference preseason coaches’ poll, the Broncos were picked to finish second behind last year’s champ Brigham Young.

Another highlight of the video, by independent producer Zach Kranzler of San Francisco, is hearing legendary coach Smith pledge, “I’m a Bronco for life.”

Smith entered his 29th season at the University, having compiled a .740 winning percentage, including 10 conference titles and the NCAA championship in 2001. Before last season, he signed a seven-year contract with an additional three-year extension at his option.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the next 10 years,” Smith says. “As great as our history has been, I want these next 10 years to be our best 10 years.”

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