Pilots fight to the end against Portland Thorns

By The Beacon | April 3, 2013 9:00pm

Sophomore defender Lorielle McCluskie gets physical with a Portland Thorns player to stop a shot. (Elizabeth Tertadian | THE BEACON)

By Taylor Tobin Staff Writer tobint16@up.edu

In their first friendly, the Portland Thorns FC barely walked out of Merlo Field victorious.

In front of a sell-out crowd on April 30, the Pilots challenged the Thorns, leading 1-0 in the first half with a goal from junior forward Amanda Frisbee in the 30th minute.

It wasn't until the second half that Thorns forward and UP alumna Danielle Foxhoven scored the equalizer in the 52nd minute. Thorns midfielder Allie Long scored the winning goal in the 73rd minute, to put the Thorns up 2-1.

"For me, it showed that we can do anything if we play like a team. Our defense was all together and so was our offense," sophomore midfielder Rebekah Kurle said. "Our goal is to work hard. When we dig our toes in and play that Portland soccer, I think we can beat anybody. It's just getting in the right mindset."

The score could have been 2-2. The Pilots had a last-chance opportunity to score in the 88th minute, but junior Micaela Capelle missed an open goal, her shot going wide left.

The Thorns outshot the Pilots 23-6, including 13-3 during the second half, forcing Pilots goalkeeprs junior Erin Dees and sophomore Nichole Downing to make 12 saves.

Junior Pilots goalkeeper Erin Dees played a strong first half, making six saves. Dees was impressed with her team's defense and overall level of play during the game.

"I think we played phonemically. Going into it I was like, 'Wow these are professional soccer players,'" Dees said. "They're supposed to be way better [than us], and we came out and played our game. We were winning longer than they were. It was a lot closer than we expected, especially looking at other pro teams who had played college teams. I was really proud of how well everyone played."

Kurle believes playing the Thorns was a chance to experience a high level of play. The Pilots impressive performance came from hard work before the match. The girls prepared not only as a team, but also individually.

"[We prepare by] focusing in the training room and when we come out for warm-up," Kurle said. "Everybody does their own thing-zoning in and visualizing."

Junior midfielder Michelle Cruz said the game was fun offseason practice for the Pilots.

"They are an amazing team. We now see what we have to work on. My favorite part was playing against the UP alums," said Cruz. "It was awesome that they got to come back and play on Merlo."

Dees thinks the turnout of fans and excitement at the match says something about Portland women's soccer.

"You're going to look at other professional teams that are probably not going to get that many fans during their regular season. And the fact that we get that in an exhibition match between to Portland teams makes me really proud for the city," Dees said. "It's great for soccer in Portland and soccer in general."

Sophomore defender Lorielle McCluskie slides to block Thorns’ Danielle Foxhoven from getting possession of the ball. Ball control was the most important part of the game and kept the Pilots in the game and giving them the lead for most of the game. (Elizabeth Tertadian | THE BEACON)

Junior midfielder Ellen Parker battles with Portland Thorns’ Dani- elle Foxhoven for possession of the ball. (Elizabeth Tertadian | THE BEACON)

Junior goalkeeper Erin Dees leaps for control in the box. (Elizabeth Tertadian | THE BEACON)