The Pilots drew 1-1 with the Sacramento State Hornets on Friday Night. Following three impressive exhibition games, the Pilots came into Merlo for the opener looking to make a statement. As a large crowd cheered from the student section, the men's soccer team had many chances, but could not capitalize.
The first half started with a quick goal from Sacramento State as they found themselves ahead after only one minute. The early goal proved to be massive for the Hornets as it forced Portland to play from behind right from the start.
“We started the game pretty slow and that’s what got us on the wrong start,” junior forward Benji Michel said. “If we start out on the right start and get momentum going it will be much better going forward.”
The game started to pick up the pace when the first of three cards was given to Sacramento State. Hornets senior defender Jack Larter received a red card for a hard foul in the fourth minute. This left Sacramento State playing a man down the rest of the game. The following two cards were split between the two teams when yellow cards went to Hornet sophomore defender Tyler Moss and junior Pilot defender Francesco Tiozzo.
The equalizer would not come for the Pilots until the 27th minute. Junior Gio Magana-Rivera fed a ball to the left side of the field to a sprinting Benji Michel who beat the keeper and scored from close to the far post. The Pilots held possession of the ball for much of the first half but could only capitalize on one of five shots.
The Pilots came out controlling the ball in the second half, looking to take advantage of being a man up on Sacramento State. Even though the Pilots were able to control possession, they could not complete their shots to the box in an effective enough way to come away with the go-ahead goal.
Playing a man up, the Pilots needed to push the ball forward. However, as the game went on, the pace seemed to lull.
“We need to go go go, as a center back I shouldn’t have 100 touches on the ball,” senior center back Lionel Mills said. “It should be pass it to the midfielders so they can make connections with the forwards."
The score tied at one sent the season opener to overtime. The Pilots continued to try and work the ball into the box with with no prevail. The Hornets back line continued to rally to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes.
The Pilots return to Merlo Field on Sunday Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. to take on Syracuse University.