The Pilots men’s soccer team hosted the first game in the NCAA tournament at Merlo Field on Nov. 18. They beat the Seattle University Redhawks 3-2 Thursday night. They went on to play #2 Washington University on Sunday, Nov. 21 where they fell 1-3, ending their playoff journey.
Seattle U began with the kickoff, but the Pilots were quick to take possession. They looked for an early attack but lost the ball in the Redhawks box.
The Redhawks took advantage of this and pushed the ball upfield, losing it on the far end line. Giving the Pilots a goal kick.
The poor weather conditions were apparent on the pitch with a few players sliding around and some miss-hit balls.
The playoff energy could be felt from both teams with forward Luke Hendel rushing to the ball and applying high pressure. The Redhawks matched the energetic pace of play.
The first goal came for Seattle U in the 24th minute from a scuffle in the box and a well-placed shot from forward Noe Meza.
The Redhawks didn’t stay on top long, however, because of the Pilots’ answer two minutes later. Forward Alejandro Pereira came through with the first Pilot goal of the night, assisted by midfielder Brandon Cambridge.
The Redhawks had the kickoff after the goal, but not for long, with the Pilots playing with more composure and keeping possession until their next opportunity to strike.
This opportunity came quickly for the Pilots two minutes later when Pereira’s second goal put them in the lead. This goal was also assisted by Cambridge.
Before the half was over, Seattle mounted a few more attempts on the Pilots’ goal, but goalkeeper George Tasouris stopped some shots and cleared the ball. Seattle looked for an opportunity off of a corner kick, forcing Tasouris to punch the ball away, and he collided with a Seattle player in doing so. Both players went down, but neither was seriously injured.
The first half ended with the Pilots possessing and waiting out the final minutes of play.
The Pilots started the second half with kickoff, but a miss-hit gave the ball to Seattle. Nothing came from Seattle’s opportunity, however.
The game went back and forth for the beginning of the second half, with both teams trying to break through the other’s defense.
The Pilots broke through first, netting the third goal in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Wesley Frankel put the ball in, assisted by defender Kevin Bonilla.
With the Pilots ahead by two, Seattle was looking to pull closer, outshooting Portland 16-5. Their final goal came in the game’s last ten minutes when midfielder Levonte Johnson scored unassisted.
The Redhawks played desperately for the final five minutes, leading to scrappy play from both sides. Seattle picked up two yellow cards in aggressive plays.
“That was a hard-fought game in this type of tournament game where you have to survive to advance,” said Head Coach Nick Carlin-Voigt.
The Pilots held off the final attempts of the Redhawks in order to secure the win, mirroring the score from the first meeting with Seattle U earlier in the season.
Although this game marked the end of the Pilots’ season, it didn’t end without a fight.
Tasouris had four saves in the first half, totaling seven by the end of the game — the most saves by a Pilot in a playoff game since 2018, according to the Portland Pilots press release.
Washington’s Dylan Teves scored all three goals for the team. Hendel scored the only goal for the Pilots — his first goal in the playoffs and third of the season, the release said. The game ended in Seattle 3-1.
“We had a great run and the team really came together beautifully,” Carlin-Voigt said in the release. “They created a special culture and bond with life-long memories. Thank you to everyone who supported this team.”
Wilder Isom is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Austin De Dios contributed to this story. He can be reached at email@example.com