Round Two!

By The Beacon | November 14, 2012 9:00pm

Junior Amanda Frisbie races to gain control of the ball against a Washington State player. The Pilots and the Cougars fought in a physical battle as UP came from behind to win. (Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)

By PJ Marcello, Staff Writer

Face-numbing cold and physical play from the Washington State Cougars could not prevent the Pilots and National Player of the Week Erin Dees from advancing to the second round of the women's NCAA playoffs. The Pilots were able to win in a 6-5 penalty shootout after double overtime.

"It's tough to lose on PK's, and it's great to win, but I never want to go to PK's again. Dees is a legend," redshirt junior defender Kendall Johnson said.

Dees earned honors for her seven saves in regulation, scoring a penalty goal and her three penalty kick saves, keeping the Pilots' postseason dreams alive Friday night on Merlo Field.

"It's just kind of a surreal experience," Dees said. "Anticipating the shot and judging where it might go is all you can really focus on. You just have to put everything else in the back of your mind."

The Pilots were tested early and often by the Cougars throughout the first half. Washington State had nine shot attempts to Portland's two, scoring a goal in the 35th minute.

"Oh my goodness, we were digging ourselves out of a hole all night; tremendous resilience from this team tonight. We showed a lot of character and a lot of heart, with a big exclamation point from Dees in goal through penalty kicks," Head Coach Garrett Smith said.

Washington State had possession for most of the first half, but when Portland got an opportunity, they took advantage. WCC Defender of the Year Johnson drilled a left-footer on a give-and-go assist from forward Amanda Frisbee with three minutes to go in the half.

The momentum in the first half seemed to carry over in the second half for the Cougars as they scored first when a heel kick snuck in from a deflected corner kick in the 53rd minute.

Eight minutes later Johnson assisted Michelle Cruz on a cross to the far post for the tying goal.

"I just wanted to get it across to the far post. I knew they would be crashing the box and (Cruz) was on it," Johnson said.

Smith praised Johnson's efforts in coming up from defense and making a key plays offensively to help tie the game twice in regulation.

"That's why we love having her here, that's the kind of player she is. Her job as an outside back is to defend and she's one of the best defenders in the conference as she was rewarded," Smith said. "It's also about being an attacking presence, whether it's getting to the end line and making crosses for assists or extending our attacks into more extended possessions or doing exactly what she did, taking the ball on her own, putting her head down and getting it done on her own."

Through the rest of regulation and overtime, both teams were held scoreless as both goalkeepers had big saves to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Dees shined in penalty kicks as the Pilots fell behind early. Down four PKs to three, Dees stepped up to shoot for the Pilots and tied it up. Following her score she rallied to save the next two shots. After a Portland shot missed off the cross bar, giving Washington State a chance to win, Dees made her third penalty save.

Going into the ninth round of PKs, Portland sent in the team's only senior, Taylor Brooke, who's shot deflected off the goalkeeper's foot and into the net.

"I knew going into this night I was going to have to take a PK if needed and so walking up you go and just do your job," Brooke said. "I honestly wasn't even thinking. I just set the ball down and it was all instinctual."

The physically and emotionally exhausting game gives Portland confidence going into their second round game against the University of Michigan (15-5-2) in University Park, Penn. on Nov. 16.

"It's beneficial. I love playing a physical, hard-fought game early in the postseason because it gives us momentum moving on. It prepares us more mentally and physically," Brooke said.

The Hollywood-style ending to the game added some flare and encouragement for the team, which has no plans of slowing down their seven game winning streak.

"It's nice to see that we have the fortitude to get the job done," Smith said. "Things don't get any easier the deeper we get in the playoffs, let alone on the road, but being on the road is not going to be an excuse to lose so we're just going to continue to win."

(Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)

The Pilots celebrate after junior goalkeeper Erin Dees made the game-winning save to win 6-5 in penalty kicks. (Photo courtesy of

(Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)

(Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)

(Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)

(Jackie Jeffers | THE BEACON)