Between head coaches Erica Dambach and Jerry Smith, the pair have a combined 861 career wins as women’s college soccer head coaches.
Dambach, the leader of Penn State women’s soccer, contributes 313, while Santa Clara women’s soccer head coach Smith contributes the additional 548 total victories.
Though Smith outpaces Dambach in career triumphs and years on the field, Dambach’s group moved on to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, while Smith’s roster played its last game of the 2023 season Friday night.
“Penn State’s a well coached, well organized, tough team,” Smith said after the Nittany Lions’ 2-0 NCAA Tournament second-round victory at Jeffrey Field. “They deserved to win today because of their ability to defend in the box.”
A first half offensive showcase from Penn State created its two-goal lead ahead of the second 45 minutes of play, but the Broncos knocked on the Nittany Lions’ door for the entire second half in search of a goal. While no conversion ever came for Santa Clara, the highly-touted matchup could’ve gone either way at any point.
As Dambach quietly builds her women’s soccer dynasty in Central Pennsylvania and approaches the win totals of Smith, Anson Dorrance, Steve Swanson, and others, she’s marking history on the perimeter of Jeffrey Field on the complex’s banners.
“Like us, they have their history on the boards there for everyone to read,” Smith noted. “NCAA appearances and Final Fours and championships. That’s a wonderful history that Penn State has, and Erica’s teams are always really well prepared.”
Smith, in his 37th year at Santa Clara, has 13 West Coast Conference titles, 33 NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 College Cups, and two National Championships under his belt.
Dambach similarly has 11 Big Ten regular-season titles, five conference tournament championships, 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, two College Cups, and a national championship to her name in her 17th year with the Nittany Lions.
This go around, though, Dambach clinched her 10th NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen appearance and seventh consecutive berth, which is tied for the longest active streak in Division I women’s soccer, but Penn State has a habit of getting stuck in the Round of 16 and hasn’t advanced to the Elite Eight since 2018.
Smith and the Broncos, meanwhile, have only made it to the Sweet Sixteen three times in the last seven years, however, its run in 2020 culminated in a national championship.
Despite emerging victorious in the rainy, Friday matchup under the lights and cementing Penn State women’s soccer further in its mission toward a national championship, Dambach praised Smith for his leadership and trailblazing within the sport.
“Jerry’s the goat,” Dambach said. “Jerry’s been around it. He was coaching when I was a player, and he has won national championships. He’s somebody I look up to, I admire. He is somebody that, over the years, I’ve reached out to, and he’s helped guide our coaches through some different times. Jerry is the standard in women’s soccer, so to coach alongside of him, to coach against him is a privilege.”