Your UP Sports Update: Volleyball has best start in program history and men’s soccer stays undefeated
Kienan Weekes had a stellar game against the University of Washington this week. His performance earned him WCC Player of the Week honors.
This fall sports season the Pilots have had one of the best starts in UP sports history. And it just keeps getting better and better.
Right now fall sports has a combined record of 22-4-2. UP has the the best win percentage of any mid-major, and the second-best win percentage in the nation, trailing only Michigan State. Four of the five teams are either ranked or received votes; only seven other schools can say the same. Every team is either meeting or exceeding expectations across the board.
The hot streak didn’t stop this weekend either. Let’s take a look at how the Pilots fared this weekend.
Volleyball remains undefeated
Volleyball is the undisputed hottest team on campus right now, and they’re showing no signs of cooling off anytime soon.
The Pilots won their fourth tournament title this weekend at the Boise State Classic, beating Sacramento State, Boise State and CSUN on their way to the title. Senior Reghan Pukis and junior Shayla Hoeft made the All-Tournament team while junior Cali Thompson was named MVP of the tournament.
This means that they currently are sitting at a cool 12-0 for the season, the best start in program history. They are one of six teams that are still undefeated. The team has the most wins in the WCC, and is one of only two teams, the other being BYU, that are still undefeated in the conference. They’re one of the hottest teams in the nation right now, and the team that lost every game in 2013 now seems to be a distant memory.
But conference play starts this week with a game against Pepperdine (6-4) and Loyola Marymount (10-1), and the WCC has historically been one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA. BYU currently sits at No. 1 in the nation and continues to dominate. Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s have both played well to start the year also.
It’ll be interesting to see the Pilots navigate through the brutal WCC gauntlet, which they struggled in last year, going just 6-12 in conference play after another hot start. But the combination of stellar play from players such as Shayla Hoeft and Cali Thompson and the leadership of new head coach Jeff Baxter is showing to be successful so far; one that could put the WCC on notice.
Soccer has solid weekend too
It was a big weekend for both soccer teams. The men’s team battled it out with their toughest opponent yet in Washington as well as playing a hard-fought game against American University. Meanwhile, the women’s team took on a pair of in-state rivals with University of Oregon and Oregon State.
The men’s team came up big with a win against the Huskies squad that ranked ninth in the nation It was a tight, physical match that ended with the Pilots coming out on top. Junior striker Benji Michel had the only goal of the game in the 21st minute for the Pilots, giving him six goals through six games at the time.
The men’s team also played a tough game against American University this weekend resulted in a 2-2 draw. The Pilots got off 34 shots but were only able to capitalize on two of them. Junior Rey Ortiz scored off a penalty kick, and junior Gio Magana-Rivera shot it into the top right corner of the net from 18 yards out.
The men’s team has also been on a tear this season. They’re 5-0-2, their best start since the 1989 season, and are the only other undefeated team on The Bluff right now. They are currently ranked 10th in the nation according to Top Drawer Soccer and 15th in the most recent coaches poll. Redshirt senior Kienan Weekes also just earned WCC Player of the Week for getting a clean sheet against UW.
He also earned a spot on the Top Drawer Soccer Team of the Week earlier this season, an honor that other Pilots this season have also garnered. Michel, as well as star midfielder Ortiz, both have made team of the week and both were named to MAC Hermann Trophy watch list earlier this year. The men’s team is playing like one of the best in the nation currently.
Meanwhile, for women’s soccer the French Revolution is in full swing and off to a solid start. They’ve already matched their win total from last year with a 5-4 record despite playing against multiple big name teams to start the year.
Coming off a title win at the 2018 Nike Invitational the weekend before, the women’s team was looking to make a statement this weekend. They would split the weekend 1-1, losing the first game against UO 1-0 but crushing Oregon State 3-0.
was a hard fought one for the Pilots. After a goal in the 54th minute from sophomore Taryn Ries, who had three goals through two games this weekend, the Ducks responded quickly, scoring two goals in the 60th and 79th minute to seal a comeback win for UO.
The same would not happen for the Pilots against Oregon State. Ries picked up two more goals in this one, while junior Kimberly Hazlett added another. The Pilots dominated, getting off 21 shots to the Beavers’ two. It was a big win for the women’s team.
The women’s team is looking solid to start the year. Whether they can continue playing solid through conference play remains to be seen. They were picked to finish seventh in the WCC in the preseason but they’ve already surpassed what they did last year. If they could do that, then they just might be able to keep that momentum going when they open up conference play with University of San Diego on Sep. 27.
What’s up next?
This week volleyball starts WCC play with their conference opener Thursday against Pepperdine. They’ll also play LMU on Saturday, who currently holds a 10-1 record and has the third best record in the conference right now, right behind Portland. Both are home games, with the game against Pepperdine starting at 7 p.m. and the game against LMU starting at noon.
Both soccer teams will split time on the road and at home this weekend. The men’s team will play Oregon State on Friday at 7 p.m. here at Merlo Field and then travel on Monday Sep. 24 to face off with a tough Coastal Carolina team at 4 p.m.
The women’s team will travel to North Dakota on Friday to battle it out with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. On Sunday they’ll come back and match up with Seattle University.
The cross country teams were off last week, but are back this week to race in the Dellinger Invite at Eugene. Both teams have been strong so far. The men’s team, who’s ranked third in the nation right now and was picked to finish second in the WCC after finishing second in the nation, won the Portland State Rust Buster earlier this season and finished second at the Oregon Preview.
The women’s team is also ranked, coming in at 28th in the latest coaches poll and 12th according to FloTrack. They came in third overall at the Rust buster and won the Oregon Preview earlier this season.
Tune in next week to see how the Pilots fared and what’s up next in what’s already been an exciting fall sports season.