The Pilots must have gotten their brooms out because they swept away the competition this week.
Soccer and volleyball had solid weekends, going a combined 5-0. It was a return to form for the volleyball team and a continuation of the stellar play the soccer teams have experienced so far this season.
Let’s break down exactly what happened.
Soccer goes 3-0 this weekend
In what seems par for the course as of late, both of the soccer teams found themselves undefeated at the end of the weekend. Men’s soccer won their conference opener against the Gonzaga Bulldogs 3-2 on Saturday Oct. 6, and the women’s team came away with victories against Saint Mary’s and Pacific 3-0 and 4-1, respectively.
Men’s soccer earned their first conference win and also remained undefeated thanks to a come-from-behind victory in Spokane. The Bulldogs jumped ahead early with two goals in the first 12 minutes, but the Pilots quickly struck back with a quick goal from junior striker Benji Michel off the penalty kick. Portland followed it up in the second half with a pair of goals from junior Malcolm Dixon and sophomore Luke Hendel. The goals were Dixon’s third on the year and Hendel’s first.
Now stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Benji Michel is really good at soccer. His goal this weekend gives him ten on the year, which is the most in the WCC and is sixth in the nation. He was just named U.S. Bank Student-Athlete of the Month and shot the game-winning goal in five games out of six in September. He continues to be electric and shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s not just Michel that looks good right now either. The team as a whole is playing extremely well. just behind Saint Mary’s, who sits at sixth. The Gaels sit at 12-0 right now and just wiped the floor with Pacific, winning 4-0. Pacific was supposed to be the top team in the conference this year, so it’s a big win for Saint Mary’s, who seems to be the biggest competition in the conference for Portland.
But Portland doesn’t have to worry about them for now. They don’t play the Gaels till mid-November, so all the Pilots can do is keep racking up wins until the two meet on Nov. 10. For now, they’ll just have to worry about LMU and San Diego, two teams that are going into this weekend under .500. They shouldn’t have to worry too much about taking them down, but sweeping these two teams and praying for a Saint Mary’s loss will go a big way towards solidifying UP as the dominant soccer school.
Meanwhile, women’s soccer is doing great as well, going 2-0 this past weekend against Saint Mary’s and Pacific.
Taryn Ries continues to light up the scoreboard for the Pilots. weekend, racking up one against Saint Mary’s as well as another hat trick against Pacific. She has the conference lead in both goals and game-winning goals by a comfortable margin, and is ranked second in both those categories. She was also named U.S. Bank Student-Athlete of the Month for her stellar play.
It would be an understatement to say that the women’s soccer is playing better than they did last year. They’ve already doubled their win total from last year, are tied for first place in the conference at 3-1 and have already surpassed their conference win total from last year. Ries’s scoring gives the Pilots a dimension to their game that they lacked all of last year. She has 13 goals by herself this year. Last year, the Pilots as a team had 11 goals. The team has 25 goals so far with five games left.
The women’s team has a bye this week, but start up again on Oct. 19th against the conference favorites going into the year, the Santa Clara Broncos. This will be a big challenge for the Pilots, and getting a win over them would be a big statement from a team only predicted to finish seventh in the conference in the preseason.
Volleyball wins again!
Volleyball got back on track this past weekend, winning both of their games at home to go 2-4 in conference play.
While the opponents they played weren’t exactly world-beaters (San Francisco is 1-5 in conference play and Santa Clara was 0-6), it was still an important weekend for the Pilots. Both wins were convincing 3-0 sweeps where Portland dominated from start to finish. It’ll hopefully get them back on track after suffering some tough losses to begin conference play, starting 0-4 and being swept in three of those matches.
This weekend, they’ll go on the road to face off against Pacific and Saint Mary’s. Pacific has struggled so far this year, winning 6-11 and going only 1-5 in conference play. However, Saint Mary’s will be tougher; the Gaels 11-5 overall despite going 3-3 so far in conference. Going undefeated this weekend isn’t totally out of the question, but it should be tough on the road.
What’s up next?
Women’s soccer is off until next weekend when they play Santa Clara and San Francisco.
Men’s soccer will play LMU and San Diego this weekend here at Merlo Field. They play the Lions on Friday Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and the Toreros on Sunday Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m.
Volleyball takes a road trip to California to face off against Pacific and Saint Mary’s. They play Pacific on Thursday Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. and Saint Mary’s on Saturday Oct. 13 at 1 p.m
Cross country was off this past weekend, but they’re back running in the Warner Pacific Cross Country Classic on Saturday Oct. 13.
Stay tuned for the next Pilot Roundup.