The 13th ranked Pilots (8-0-2) hosted the Northern Illinois Huskies (7-3-0) in their final test before West Coast Conference (WCC) play. The Pilots answered the call by staying unbeaten with a 3-0 victory.
The Pilot’s stayed balanced in the first half, having possession for majority of the time. Attacks were well placed and planned out.
It didn’t take long for The Pilots to take advantage of possession. In the 11th minute a bouncing ball out of bounds gave Portland a corner from the right side of the field. The ball was placed in the box by junior midfielder Gio Magana-Rivera and headed to the back of the net by junior striker Benji Michel, his team leading ninth goal of the season.
Northern Illinois was not given many chances in the first half as the speed of Portland’s back line was able to make up for any mistakes the Pilots made. The Huskies ended the first half with only one shot.
The Pilots played relaxed, not trying to force anything and picking when to strike.
“We are finding a rhythm now to where we can rest on the ball,” said senior Pilot defenseman Lionel Mills. “We don’t always have to go 100 miles per hour.”
The Pilots came out aggressive in the second half, pushing the ball forward aggressively. This strategy paid off for the Pilots in the 58th minute as Pilot junior striker Benji Michel was fouled just outside the box. The foul by Northern Illinois redshirt freshman midfielder Lawrence Kawema warranted a red card, putting the Pilots a man up for the rest of the match.
The Pilots continued their pursuit after the card, notching some second half goals. The first came from senior Pilot defenseman Malcolm Dixon who found the back of the net heading it in in the 64th minute.
“Credit to the staff with coming up with different designs, the guys get the credit, they executed. Really proud of them,” said Portland Head Coach Nick Carlin-Voigt.
The Pilots added an exclamation point when freshman Pilot midfielder Greg Tracey was able to score his first collegiate goal, beating the goalie from the right side off an assist form junior teammate Gio Magana-Rivera.
The Huskies tried to push the ball more in the second half, finding a few opportunities. However Portland’s back line continued to deny Northern Illinois of a strong chance to score.
The Pilots will be back in action Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. as they open WCC play against Gonzaga at Merlo Field.