No retribution for aging Merlo loss
Pilots look forward after tough loss to Huskies on 20th anniversary of Merlo Field
By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Writer -- email@example.com
Twenty years after they christened Merlo Field, the Pilots and the University of Washington met again this past Sat., Sept. 25 in typhoon type weather. The Huskies won that first game 1-0, and things didn't change as the Huskies rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Pilots.
Amidst the rain, both teams found a way to create multiple scoring opportunities but it was the Huskies who were able to strike first when junior striker Brent Richards capitalized on a rebound in the 34th minute after senior goalkeeper Austin Guerrero saved a shot by Husky senior Matt VanHouten.
The Huskies quickly doubled the lead four minutes later on a 12 yard strike to the upper right corner by freshman Zach Portillos.
Pilots Head Coach Bill Irwin said the weather played a part in the loss, but is no excuse.
"I think their style of play wasn't as effective in the weather because they were more direct," Irwin said. "But in the end we made some mistakes and we were punished for them."
On top of nasty weather and mistakes, the Pilots caught some bad luck sending two free kicks into the crossbar in 41st and 49th minutes.
As time became a factor, the Pilots changed up their formation, sending people up the field and keeping only three defenders back.
It wasn't until the 84th minute that the Pilots found the back of the net in a rebound score from junior Ryan Luke. The Huskies quickly ousted any chance of a last minute comeback when the Huskies scored their 3rd a minute later followed by a fourth goal in the 88thminute.
"Their last two goals were a product to us throwing some guys up," said Irwin. "We went after it."
Sophomore defender Marc Tonkel said he sees the loss as a wake up call.
"We were all pretty upset about the result. But now we just have to make it a positive and use it as a wake up call," Tonkel said.
Mistakes were the biggest problem for the Pilots, failing to capitalize on several offensive opportunities. There is no doubt that the weather had some part in that but Tonkel doesn't believe it was an important factor.
"Its always hard to play in weather like that. But when it comes down to it, both teams were playing on the same field," Tonkel said.
Junior Ryan Luke, the Pilots' top goal scorer with three goals, said there is nothing to fix offensively.
The Pilots had no problem creating opportunities, recording 21 shots on goal. It was their inability to put the ball in the back of the net.
"We don't necessarily need to fix anything, we just need to be composed and finish opportunities," Luke said.
It was the Pilots defense that was the weak point against Washington and Luke said defense is going to be the focus of training this week as they prepare to head north to Seattle where they will face UC Davis and Seattle University.
Luke doesn't see this loss as anything alarming and said he looks forward to getting back on the field and preparing for this weekend's game.
"It's only one game and it won't make or break our season," Luke said. "We just have to move forward and take it out on UC Davis."