Pilots triumph 1-0 over Zags on senior night
Kris Reaves signed a homegrown contract with FC Dallas this past January.
On Saturday evening, the University of Portland men’s soccer team faced the Gonzaga University Bulldogs and won 1-0 as their seven seniors played their last regular season home game on Merlo Field. The Pilots celebrated the victory with their friends and family on a rainy senior night.
“It was just a really fun game,” senior Matthew Coffey said. “It’s always good to go out on a winning note with our last home game and send the seniors out on a good note with it being their last game on Merlo.”
The seven seniors-- which include captains Matt Coffey, Paul Christensen, and Kris Reaves, along with seniors Hanno Antoni, Erik Edwardson, Jason Romero, and Brandon Zambrano--stepped out onto the field before the game accompanied by their parents, siblings, and peers in recognition of their time as Portland Pilots. Fans cheered from the stands while teammates beamed from the sidelines.
“All seven of them are just fantastic,” head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt said. “I’m really happy with everything they’ve contributed to the program, and where they’ve come in a very short period of time...they give me everything they have every single game.”
The Pilots came out strong, dominating the field and keeping the ball on their opponent’s side. Freshman Caua Soares took the first shot of the night, but ended up wide by just a few inches. An indirect kick was taken by sophomore Rey Ortiz minutes later, but also missed just right of the post. But Portland persisted and continued to dominate, with Ortiz eventually scoring from 15 yards out at the 35th minute with a cross from freshman Spencer Meyers. The Pilots kept the Bulldogs on their side, and finished the half with a 1-0 lead.
The second half was more challenging for Portland. The Zags sat deep on the defensive side, making it difficult for the Pilots to increase their lead. Sophomore Benji Michel obtained possession and took a shot from the 18, but was called offsides soon after the ball hit the net. Michel took another shot minutes later, but was blocked by Gonzaga goalkeeper Ben Willis. In the 63rd minute, Michel tried to switch the ball over to Edwardson for an open shot on goal, but put too much power on the ball and Edwardson was unable to get to it.
The Pilots couldn’t capitalize off a corner by Romero and a wide shot from sophomore Gio Magaña-Rivera. Another shot driven by Edwardson was blocked by an excellent save from Willis. Michel shot wide and was blocked by a defender, but gained the Pilots another corner. After two yellow cards to seniors Coffey and Ramero, the half ended with no goals, but a win for the Portland seniors on their senior night.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” Edwardson said. “Every time I come out on this pitch it’s a blessing, and I’m happy to have had four years here.”
The team will travel to Saint Mary’s next Saturday, Nov. 11 to face the Gaels in the championship and final regular season game.