Pilots edge out Santa Clara in tough 1-0 victory
Pilots celebrate after scoring.
In their fourth conference game of the year, the Portland Pilots edged out the Santa Clara Broncos in a grueling 1-0 win.
“We just needed to calm down a little bit and be on the ball more and try to have the ball,” said Nick Carlin-Voigt, Portland’s head coach. “When we did, you saw a good example of how we can score.”
The game started off slow, with both teams reluctant to strike at their opponent. Things didn’t pick up until after the tenth minute of play when UP started slinging in some dangerous crosses.
After a tedious first half, Carlin-Voigt pulled his starting squad aside and had a few words with them. The Pilots dogged their way through the first half and came out swinging immediately in the second half, when in the 45th minute the Pilots had a moment of magisterial possession, which found Rey Ortiz slotting a low cross from the right side of the box into the feet of Caua Soares, who elegantly placed it in the bottom left corner of the net.
This was Ortiz’s 12th assist of the year, placing the maestro 2nd in the nation for assists. The sophomore midfielder is now extremely close to matching the single-season program record of 14, which was set by Joe Leonetti in 1991.
Yet despite this impressive achievement, Ortiz stays focused on the larger goals, “It’s a team effort and I just try to put the ball in the box and let my forwards do what they do best.” Ruiz wasn’t the only one who shined in tonight’s performance however, as Paul Christensen came in clutch for the Pilots with two leg saves that sealed the three points.
“The guys in front of me made it pretty easy for me,” Christensen said. “I couldn’t do it without the other guys.”
“They’re a team that grinds,” Carlin-Voigt said of Santa Clara. The Broncos, ranked 6th in the conference, were dogged and energetic throughout the match, “you could tell that team had 14 days off… They were very fresh.”
The second half proved much livelier than the first as the Broncos found themselves scrapping for their season. Despite a number of late chances and close calls, the Pilots were able to hang on and remain at the top of the table in doing so.
Portland’s depth proved to be the decisive factor in tonight’s win, as players like Caua Soares and Malcom Dixon came off the bench and proved to be major thorns in Santa Clara’s side.
“It’s always better than anything, even though, of course scoring is really great,” said Soares after the Brazilian freshmen scored the crucial winner.
The Pilot’s will look to continue their habit of creating goals and finding ways to win when they play San Francisco at home on Sunday. Depth will play a key role once again, as the Pilots only have a day of rest before they have to go out and play their game against the Dons.