The Portland Pilots’ women’s soccer team got off to a rocky start on Sunday with an own goal in the fourth minute, but they bounced back to score two goals and earn the victory against the University of Denver Pioneers 2-1 at the Nike Portland Invitational Sunday afternoon.
The own goal came when Portland junior defender Olivia Dendinger headed the ball into the back of the Pilots’ net. Portland responded quickly, though, with a goal from Kimberly Hazlett in the 10th minute.
For the remainder of the first half, both teams’ goals stayed largely untouched, as defensive efforts on both sides kept the ball immobile in centerfield. Portland allowed only two shots, neither of which were on target. Defenders Kimberly Hazlett and Ellie Walker stood out, consistently keeping the Pilots goal locked down.
The solid defense did not translate to solid offense, however, and the score remained 1-1 at half.
Coming out of the break, freshman MJ Roe scored her first career goal in the 47th minute with an assist from Taryn Ries to put Portland ahead.
“I had gotten a few minutes of playing in the first half and so I was ready to go when I came back out for the second,” Roe said about the goal. “Taryn had a great cross and so I was able to just knock it right in when she passed it to me.”
The team’s chemistry was put on display Sunday, and head coach Michelle French found herself impressed with the way the Pilots stuck to their practice plans.
“We had a specific game plan for this Denver team and I feel that we executed it defensively pretty well,” French said. “This was our best game of possession all season.”
But even though Portland controlled the ball for a little more than half of the game, French expressed a necessity for improvement in this area.
“We just can’t give the ball away. It’s as simple as that,” French said. “We had a lot of opportunities to keep possession but just had some poor decision making with the ball. We just have to take the ball. When we take it we’re a great team.”
It was a solid win for the Pilots, though there’s still plenty to work on. They’ll spend the week practicing on turf to prepare for their match against University of Oregon on Friday Sept. 13. The team will adopt a new strategy for Oregon with the hopes of executing it similar to today’s game.
Ajay Davis is a news reporter at The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.