It was an emotional night at Merlo Field as 11 University of Portland women’s soccer seniors suited up to play their final game.
In their season finale, the Pilots fell in a hard-fought battle to the University of San Diego 1-0, ending the season at 6-6-5 overall and 2-4-3 in the WCC, most likely missing the cut for the NCAA Tournament.
Before kickoff, dozens of friends and family members gathered on the field for a heartfelt ceremony to commemorate the seniors. Each senior received a framed jersey with their numbers and a bouquet of flowers surrounded by friends and family.
The first half of the game was fought evenly in the midfield. In spite of the Pilots’ 10 total shots — two shots on target and eight corner kicks — they were unable to come up with a goal.
In the 7th minute, senior Kimberly Hazlett placed a ball just inside the top of the 18-yard box, but it wasn’t converted into points. Hazlett also came up just short of a header inside the penalty box in the 13th minute.
The Pilots came out in the second half more aggressive with multiple corner kicks and a strong shot on goal by junior forward Taryn Ries inside of the 18-yard box within the first 10 minutes after the half.
But in the 74th minute, USD scored after two consecutive corner kicks. This came after a barrage of headers from both teams and an unfortunate bounce, leading to an own goal by the Pilots.
The Pilots found themselves desperately trying to string together a goal but failed to do so after a handful of attempts.
After the game, head coach Michelle French expressed how grateful she was for the seniors helping her turn the program around over the last two years.
“They've been a massive part of helping to put this program back on the map and turn it back in the direction we need to be headed,” French said. “As always we will miss them and we are excited for the opportunities that they're going to have, but like I’ve said they have been a part of putting this program back on the map.”
Senior defender Lucy Davidson concurred, putting everything she had left out there for the Pilots in her final home game.
“It’s surreal, I can’t believe four years have gone by already,” Davidson said while tearing up. “I went out there just wanting to leave my heart on the field and do everything I could to help my team and leave the program in the best place I can and I think we did that tonight.”
Davidson said that one of her favorite memories from her four years playing soccer at UP was scoring her first goal, two games ago against Pacific University.
“In the Pacific game, a couple games ago, I had my first goal of my college career, which was amazing,” Davidson said. “In the last three games of my senior year, I finally got a goal! I’ve been on defense all four years so I finally got a chance to get in the box and that was the best moment for me personally.”
French said that the program is in a good spot moving forward and is looking to expand off what this years’ seniors have built.
“(From here) we go forward,” French said. “We have a new group of juniors moving ahead to being seniors and lead this team and I think that they are ready to step up and move this program in the right direction.”
William Seekamp is a reporter at The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.