Pilots recover, but not all way

Portland feels better about losing to Gonzaga this time
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - The loss to Gonzaga wasn't so painful this time, even though it came with the same message for the Portland Pilots.

"We just have to be a lot tougher," said freshman guard Marcus Shaver, Jr. "And that's on each one of us, individually to work on that."

Portland responded to an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Bulldogs, Jan. 11, with a workman-like 95-79 loss before a spirited crowd of 4,557 at the Chiles Center Thursday night in West Coast Conference men's basketball action.

Shaver led the Pilots with 16 points, and backcourt mate D'Marques Tyson added 15 points as the Pilots kept pace with their 15th-ranked opponents and tried to forget the 103-57 loss from the first meeting.

They'd have done a lot better by not getting outrebounded 15-5 on the offensive end, or having the Zags hit 35 of 64 shots from the field, including 11 three-pointers. Three Bulldogs scored in double figures led by Killian Tillie with 27 points. Tillie hit 11 of 14 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and even handed out a pair of assists as Gonzaga improved to 18-4, 8-1 in WCC play. The Bulldogs made sure not to overlook the Pilots by leading 46-30 at the half, a week after losing their lone conference game in Spokane to St. Mary's, 74-71.

"We had a good game, did a lot of things the way we want to," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We play in a tough conference, and know not to take anyone lightly. Last week's loss was a good reminder of that, especially at home."

Portland dropped to 8-14, 2-7, with a game at St. Mary's Saturday in Moraga, Calif., just East of Oakland.

The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Pilots.

Portland put up a solid performance in the first half, but still wound up trailing 46-30 after 20 minutes, due in significant part to Tillie's 13 points, highlighted by three baskets after offensive rebounds. Gonzaga made eight of its 16 three-point attempts, led 10-2 in assists, and shot 18-of-33 overall from the field.

Once the lead hit double digits, the outcome was largely decided. Few played forward Rui Hachimura, widely considered the team's most promising NBA Draft pick in summer, just 12 minutes, which resulted in one field goal.

Portland got a sturdy performance from 7-foot-2, senior, center Phillipp Hartwich, who scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and battled for five rebounds. The Pilots finished with five offensive rebounds, although two were the kind that got swatted out of bounds - team rebounds.

Sophomore Josh McSwiggan added nine points and four rebounds for Portland, which finished the second half 49-49 with Gonzaga.

Portland has eight games remaining after Saturday leading into the conference tournament, March 1-6 in Las Vegas.



French returns to the Bluff

UP hires former standout as women's soccer coach
Staff report

PORTLAND - The University of Portland officially introduced Michelle French as the new women’s soccer head coach with a reception on Monday afternoon at the Chiles Center.

French returns to Portland where she helped lead the Pilots to three NCAA Final Four appearances, and was a National Player of the Year finalist as a senior in 1998. A defender, French earned All-American honors with the Pilots, and she went on to become an Olympic medalist with the women’s national team.

French, who hails from Fort Lewis, Wash., spent the past 12 years coaching in the U.S. Soccer system, most recently as an assistant coach with the senior Women’s National Team. She also served on the USA National Team staff at both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

French was the first full-time head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team beginning in 2013. She coached the USA at the 2014 and 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cups. She was on the shortlist for the CONCACAF Female Coach of the Year Award in 2016.

As a player, French earned 14 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1997-2001. She was a member of the 2000 Olympic Team in Australia that claimed a Silver Medal. She also was on the U.S. Under-21 National Team from 1994-99, serving as the team captain the last two years.

She replaces Garrett Smith, who guided the team the past 15 years recording a 222-78-24 record. The Pilots were 5-13-1 this season, including 2-7 in West Coast Conference play.


Pilots open season with Tar Heels

Portland gets the national power to start 2012 campaign
Aug. 6, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Following a fantastic performance by alumni in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games, the University of Portland women's soccer team opens its season August 17 against one of the top programs in the nation - North Carolina.

Portland, with two NCAA national titles, will play host to the Tar Heels, with 20 NCAA titles.

The match will be the third time the teams have met at Merlo Field, with the Tar Heels having won in 2006 and the teams having tied 0-0 in 2002. North Carolina also beat Portland 2-1 in the 2001 NCAA Tournament semifinals.

In the following week, the Pilots play host to Oregon State and Oregon.

The Pilots, on Sept. 7, also play host to Notre Dame, which has won three titles, as part of their 12-game home schedule.

Portland reached the NCAA Tournament second round before falling to Florida State, 3-1, to end the season at 9-10-2, the first time the program finished under .500 in more than a decade.

The Pilots return seven starters, including defender Taylor Brooke, the lone senior on the roster.

Portland alums Megan Rapinoe, Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt have all been key players in the Olympics, with Sinclair and Rapinoe combining for five of the seven goals scored in the epic U.S win over Canada Monday.



Portland gets a spot in the NCAA tournament

Pilots have chance to show off program strength in 64-team field

Even in the most challenging of seasons, the University of Portland commands respect across the nation and the NCAA showed that Monday by selecting the Pilots for an at-large berth in the Div. I tournament.

Portland, 9-9-1, will play at Oregon State, 13-5-2, Friday in Corvallis. The Pilots are in the tournament for the 12th-straight season, while the Beavers are making their third-consecutive appearance in the 64-team field.

The winner Friday will likely face Florida State, one of the four top seeds in the tournament.

While the Pilots have struggled to win games, they do have victories over both Florida State and Oregon State.

Three other teams from the West Coast Conference: Pepperdine (15-1-4), San Diego (12-7) and Santa Clara (13-2-5); are also in the tournament field. Pepperdine is rated No. 8 and Santa Clara No. 13 in the latest RPI produced by the NCAA. Portland is No. 50 and is the lone team in the top 64 with nine losses.

Oregon State is No. 34, one of five teams from the Pac-12 in the tournament. Stanford (18-0-1) is a No. 1 seed, while UCLA (14-1-3) is a second seed.

The Final Four is slated for Dec. 2-4 at the newly-completed complex at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.




Stanford keeps Pilots' offense grounded

UP gets shutout again by No. 1 Cardinal
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The University of Portland women's soccer team might be making progress toward being a team capable of winning a conference title, but it's got a ways to go to show off that won't be a big surprise.

Thursday, the Pilots got overpowered by Stanford, 2-0, in a non-conference game played before a raucous crowd and a national audience on the Fox Soccer Channel.

Stanford scored on a penalty kick by Teresa Noyola late in the first half and again on a spectacular shot by Kristy Zurmhulen midway through the second half to improve to 7-0-1.

Portland went scoreless for the fourth time this season and dropped to 3-4-1 with Southern Cal of the Pac-12 Conference due at Merlo Field Sunday at 1 p.m.

A crowd of 3,410 showed up for the game - more than double the largest crowd the Cardinal have played before this season.

Stanford finished with a 15-2 edge in shots and got Portland goalkeeper Hailee DeYoung to make eight saves. Stanford had a 5-1 edge in corner kicks.



Pilots take off with win over FSU

Foxhoven scores twice in 2-1 decision
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The seventh-ranked Portland Pilots got their 2011 season off to an impressive start Sunday with a 2-1 win over No. 4  Florida State before a crowd of 2,817 at sun-baked Merlo Field.

Portland senior Danielle Foxhoven scored twice in the first half and the Pilots got enough gritty play on defense to win after falling behind in the 15th minute.

"It's always good to be able to score, especially when your teams needs it," Foxhoven said afterward. "That's my responsibility here, that's why the brought me here."

The Pilots' 19-game schedule continues Friday at home against Washington State.

Florida Sate entered with a one-game advantage, having beaten Oregon State 1-0 on Friday, and looked significantly more prepared for the game on the way to a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute. Goalkeeper Kelsey Wys unleashed a 50-yard kick that found its way to streaking Tiffany McCarty and she powered it past Portland goalkeeper Hailee DeYoung for her second score of the season.

The Pilots responded instantly, challenging the Seminoles on every possession and that paid off when Foxhoven, expected to lead the team in scoring, dribbled through a pair of defenders and fired a rocket from 15 yards out in the 36th minute to tie the contest.

Foxhoven conterted a penalty kick in the final minute of the half after Micaela Capelle had drawn a foul after beating two defenders.

Florida State kept the second half interesting by consistently getting shots off toward DeYoung, including one that hit the crossbar and bounce over. DeYoung also made a solid save on a point-blank shot to preserve the score.

FSU finished with a 22-11 edge in shots with eight players firing off two or more. DeYoung, though, was only tested by three shots on goal, the same number UP fired at Wys.

"They're a very good team and put a lot of pressure on us, especially early on," UP coach Garret Smith said. "Being able to handle tha and pull out a win, that's a great sign for this team."



Reed, Winters, Stoltenberg get WPS call up

Portland sends two more players to pro soccer
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The Boston Breakers drafted University of Portland midfielder Keelin Winters with the No. 6 pick of the Women's Professional Soccer Draft Friday and two other Oregon college players went shortly thereafter.

Eli Reed, the highest rated defender among draft hopefuls, went No. 8 to the expansion Western New York Flash, and University of Oregon grad Jen Stoltenberg went No. 9 to Philadelphia from among the 24 draft picks.

Alex Morgan of the Universit of California went No. 1 to Western New York.

The WPS will begin its third season in March with six teams.



JAN. 12

Eli Reed, who helped lead the University of Portland to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in fall, is rated as the top selection in the upcoming Women’s Professional Soccer Draft set for Friday, according to media representatives.

The league, set to begin its third season in April, features six teams that will play 24 games during the regular season.

Sophie Schmidt is rated No. 4 at midfielder in the draft, which has 24 selections.

Several other local players were rated as honorable mention: Portland’s Jessica Tsao is also viewed as a possible selection at defender. Keelin Winters of Portland is seen as a pick at midfield, while Portland’s Kendra Chandhoke and Oregon’s Jen Stoltenberg are possible selections at forward.

The league’s schedule will be announced in February.


Movin’ on up… the hard way

Pilots lose big to No. 12 Wildcats, but take step forward for program
By Jeremy Lloyd

The Skinny

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe all moved on to the NBA, but as it turns out, Kentucky still has a pretty good basketball team. The #12 Wildcats jumped out to an early 13-0 advantage over the visibly jittery Portland Pilots tonight in front of 10,216 fans at the Rose Garden en route to a 79-48 blowout. The Pilots would eventually settle in, but were never in serious contention as Kentucky went on to win easily. Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with 21 points, Darius Miller contributed 5 steals, 4 blocks and 15 points on 6-7 shooting, and former Jefferson High standout Terrence Jones chipped in 12 points. Portland big man Luke Sikma snagged 12 rebounds, but only guard Eric Waterford managed to break double-figure scoring for the Pilots with 12, who shot just 30.5% from the field.

My Take

I saw a TV commercial for the Portland Pilots basketball program the other night that proclaimed: “Big time college sports: It’s closer than you thought.” I like the slogan. After all, it seems appropriate for a program that is trying not only to compete with the big boys, but also brand themselves in such a way that we here in the city of Portland actually know they’re doing it.

It’s a two-pronged campaign that feeds into itself, because increased fan support will only help build the program, and building the program will increase fan support. Both, however, will prove to be a challenging task. Portland is a fickle sports town. We spend all our energy worrying over our broken Blazers and dominating Ducks. The Pilots? More of an afterthought, really.

Not many people in this city wake up in the middle of the night, jump out of bed and run to the computer because they forgot to check the score of the latest U of P game. In short, you have to do something big to grab our attention.

Winning 21 games last year? Not bad. Making a guest appearance in the top 25 for the first time in 50 years last season? You’re getting warmer. Signing a three-game agreement with the Kentucky Wildcats that brings a legit college basketball powerhouse to the City or Roses for our viewing pleasure? Now you’re talking.

Of course the Pilots lost that game against Kentucky tonight at the Rose Garden, 79-48, but the score was as inconsequential as it was unsurprising. The game was simply one of many difficult steps toward legitimacy for a program with lofty aspirations.

So, are big time college sports really “closer than you thought” here in Portland? Well, tonight they were, at least in the form of a slick-haired John Calipari and his #12 ranked Wildcats. Maybe that’s not exactly what the commercial meant, but for now it’s a good start.

Huskies end UP title run in shootout

Portland outshoots, but can't outscore Washington
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The increasing strength of women’s soccer on the national level and across the Pacific 10 Conference flexed their muscles Sunday, most vividly at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field.

Portland, one of four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, lost to Washington in a shootout, which went all the way to the 11th round before 3,003 fans.

Portland lost when Washington goalkeeper Jorde Lafontaine-Kussman stopped Jessica Tsao’s shot in the bottom half of round 11.

Portland finished 19-1-2 overall.

The Pilots, ranked No. 2 nationally, dominated virtually all of the second half and much of the two 10-minute overtime periods, but couldn’t put away a game winner. Portland outshot Washington 27-6 in the game, including 6-0 in the two overtimes.

Lafontaine-Kussman made 13 saves in the match, including nine in the second half.

“We outworked them, we out shot them. I think we earned the win,” Portland senior Keelin Winters said. “Unfortunately, soccer’s a funny game and the best team doesn’t always win.

“Good luck to Washington, I hope they go on and represent the Northwest well.”

Senior Sophie Schmidt, scored in the first half just 10 seconds after the Huskies had taken the lead and had 11 other shots, and five others on goal.

“We had plenty of chances and couldn’t find the back of the net at the opportune time,” Schmidt said. “I walk away sad as a senior, but proud of how we played today.”

The result left the Pac-10 with three teams of the final 16: Stanford, UCLA and Washington. Oregon State and Southern Cal lost Sunday, putting the conference at 8-4 overall in the tournament. Seven of the conference’s nine  teams were invited to the tournament.

Sunday’s games produced a series of upsets as the 64-team field got whittled to 16. Of the 16 teams seeded 1, 2, 3 or 4 in each quarter, six lost Sunday, including Maryland, another No. 1 seed. The Terrapins lost to Georgetown, also in a shootout.

The top remaining teams are North Carolina, which won the last two championships, and Stanford, which is a national power, but has never won a title.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has five teams remaining in the tournament: North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State and Boston College.

In the 28-year history of the women’s soccer tournament, only eight schools have won a title. Portland, with titles in 2002 and ’05, is tied for second with North Dame. North Carolina is first with 20.


Portland scores in final minute for 1-0 win

Winters gets first goal, team improves to 4-0
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The University of Portland women's soccer team passed another test of nerves Sunday with a 1-0 win over Oklahoma State at Merlo Field.

As it had against Portland State two weeks earlier, the Pilots dominated much of the game, especially in shots, but could find the back of the net until the final minute.

Senior Keelin Winters scored off a pass from senior Sophie Schmidt with just 42 seconds left to boost the team to 4-0 on the season.

Portland finished with an 18-3 edge in shots. The Pilots outshot the Vikings 27-2 in their season opener, but didn't score until the 74th minute when Schmidt scored off an assist by Winters.

Portland plays in Seattle next weekend before returning to Merlo Field for the Nike Invitational, Sept. 10 and 12.

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