In a close third game, the University of Portland men’s soccer team triumphed over the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos with a quick goal in the second half, ending the Nike Invitational game 1-0.
“Those are the type of wins that we’ll need to be successful this season,” assistant coach Logan Emory said.
The Gauchos took possession quickly, maintaining it for the first few minutes of the game, breaking through Pilot defense and taking early shots on goal. Several fouls by the Pilots might have benefitted Santa Barbara, but they were unable to capitalize. The Gauchos did score what would have been the first goal of the game, but an offside call kept the teams tied 0-0.
About half an hour into the first half, the Pilots took more control of the ball, dominating the field and keeping the game on the opponent’s side. But the Pilots still struggled to break past the Gaucho backline as junior forward Benji Michel faced the Santa Barbara defense with little support.
“We came out a little soft,” Michel said. “It took us a while to wake up.”
Both teams left the field scoreless at halftime as the Pilots were unable to score off the five corner kicks they had in the first 45 minutes.
But the Pilots came back fast and aggressive in the second half, scoring a quick goal in the first few minutes. Junior Gio Magana-Rivera assisted with a smooth pass through Gaucho defenders, splitting the backline and allowing Michel to slip it past the goalie to the lower right corner.
Although the Gauchos finished the game with more shots on goal, the Pilots found success in keeping the ball on the ground and maintaining the possession.
The remainder of the game included multiple fouls, yellow cards and protests. Four yellow cards went to Gaucho players, while one went to UP freshman Kelee Cornfield-Saunders.
“(The Pilots) are willing to scrap and play a little dirty and play ugly at times, and just do whatever it takes to win the game,” Emory said. “Expectations are just to win one game at a time.”
The Portland Pilots will next host the Cal Poly Mustangs on Monday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.