Welcome back to the Bluff! With students fully moved back into the dorms, classes resuming and the start of the 2021 spring season, here is what you missed over the break from Pilots athletics.
As the Pilots approach the middle of the season, they currently sit with a conference record of 0 wins, 8 losses and an overall record of 6-11 after most recently losing 60-105 to BYU. The Pilots are in last place in the WCC and have lost eight straight games. Three games this season have been postponed because of COVID-19.
Newcomer Ahmed Ali, who transferred to Portland from Washington State, has been a major contribution to the team as he leads the Pilots in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game. Forward Eddie Davis and guard Latrell Jones have also been bright spots for the team as they both are averaging above 10 PPG. With their remaining schedule in question, the Pilots are looking to finish the season strong despite their rocky start.
The defending WCC Women’s Champions started off the 2020-2021 season with a conference record of 6 wins, 4 losses and an overall record of 9-7. They are currently the fourth ranked team in the WCC, sitting behind Santa Clara, who has the same conference record, but has one more win overall, BYU who is 5-1 in conference and Gonzaga who are 10-0 in conference play.
Due to opposing team concerns regarding COVID-19, the Pilots have had two games postponed against Pacific and BYU. According to UP Vice President of Athletics Scott Leykam, neither of the postponed games were because of positive COVID-19 cases on UP’s end.
“None of them were our cases,” Leykam said. “I think you could see that by the fact we played right away after.”
The Pilots are led by Haylee Andrews and Alex Fowler, who have combined for 72 points in the last two games. Andrews was named the WCC player of the week in early January.
The Pilots start off the 2021 Volleyball spring season with a record of 0-2, with both losses by No.16 BYU. Although the team remains winless early in the season, there is a lot to look forward to for the team this year.
In the second game against BYU, the Pilots kept it close in all three sets, with set scores of 25-23, 26-24, and 25-22, showing that they can compete with the best. Mia Wesley led the team with 17 kills. On the defensive end, Jiana Lawson led the team with 4 blocks. According to WCC Sport’s preseason poll, the Pilots are projected to finish in last place.
The men’s soccer team opened their 2021 season by beating George Fox 9-0 in an exhibition game on Wednesday. The Pilots are projected to finish in third place behind Saint Mary’s and LMU according to the WCC Sports preseason poll. Forward/Midfielder Luke Hendel and Defender Delentz Pierre were both voted to the All-WCC Preseason Team. The Pilots begin the season with 16 new players.
The women’s team are scheduled to make their season debut at home against Linfield on Feb 5. The team welcomes back Taryn Rise who was recently named to the All-WCC Preseason Team for the second year in a row. She was the leading scorer for the Pilots last year with eight goals on the season. According to the WCC Sports Preseason Poll, the Pilots are projected to finish in fifth place behind Gonzaga, Pepperdine, Santa Clara and BYU.
Both teams are hoping to pick up from where they left off. The women’s team will start their season on Feb. 19 where they will host The University of Oregon. The team finished with four wins and two losses a season ago. The men’s team who previously finished with a five and one record will start their season on Feb. 5 as they host Portland State University.
The Pilots women’s and men’s cross country teams hosted Seattle University Jan. 31, in which Portland had the top finisher in both the women’s and the men’s race. The Pilots next meet will be in Eugene where they will compete against Oregon, Oregon State, Gonzaga, San Francisco, and Lane. The meet is Friday, February 5.
Keawe Strance is a Sports reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.