Lowrimore Wins First Career Start On Pacheco Goal
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Gonzaga University redshirt freshman keeper Chris Lowrimore got his first collegiate start Friday and he made five saves to help the Bulldogs record an impressive 2-1 victory over UC Irvine in the opening match of the Hensor/Zaher Nike Soccer Classic hosted by Oregon State University.
Gonzaga snapped a two-match losing streak while UC Irvine, ranked as high as 13th in the pre-season polls and the Big West Conference pre-season favorite, fell to 3-3-1. Gonzaga will conclude play in the tournament Sunday at 9 a.m. Sunday against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Host OSU and UWGB met in Friday's late match.
Nate Pacheco, back in action after missing three weeks with an ankle injury, got his first goal of the season and the match winner at 71:22 on a header off a corner kick by Casey Ames. That snapped the 1-1 tie and the Bulldogs held off several rushes by the Anteaters the remainder of the match.
Irvine, which entered the match having scored just one of its 11 goals in the opening half, made it two on an own goal at 26:24. The Anteaters' Dennis Martinez fed a corner kick into the box and Gonzaga's Nick Hamer got his head on the ball but it deflected toward the net and past Lowrimore for the 1-0 UCI lead.
The story in head coach Einar Thorarinsson's mind was the play of a quartet of sophomores - Pacheco, Zach Hamer, Phillips and Lowrimore, the latter a member of the sophomore class academically but a redshirt freshman in terms of eligibility.
"Chris played well. He covered the close-in shots he had to dive on and did well on the crosses. There was nothing he could do on the goal," Thorarinsson said. "The good play of the sophomores was the difference today."
Thorarinsson made the decision Friday morning to start Lowrimore in the net.
"I told John and Vito (assistant coaches Palladino and Higgins, respectively) this morning we have to start mixing the goaltending up. We don't have a starting keeper right now."
Thorarinsson took all three keepers on this trip. Ryan Caballero had started the first five matches of the season but was pulled in the final 20 minutes of last Saturday's 3-0 loss at Oregon State. Thorarinsson said he might start Keane Ellis, a redshirt sophomore who redshirted in 2010 as a freshman and then sat out last season after suffering a broken leg just days prior to the start of fall camp, in Sunday's match.
There were many factors which led to the victory, according to the 18th-year head coach said.
"We were able to possess the ball more in the midfield, hold onto it and allow our attack to formalize," Thorarinsson explained. "Having Nate back in the lineup, especially, was good for us. He settles things down for us. It was a good day for sophomores."
Thorarinsson said Pacheco showed no ill effects of the ankle injury which sidelined him for two matches.
The Gonzaga victory also snapped a six-match losing streak in the series with UCI, the Anteaters still leading the overall series 8-3-0.