Effort Rewarded As Bulldogs Tie Portland In Home Finale
SPOKANE, Wash. - Although it didn't result in a win, the effort was finally rewarded.
Gonzaga University and the University of Portland played to a 1-1 double-overtime tie Wednesday in a West Coast Conference men's soccer match at Gonzaga Soccer Field. The Zags (4-13-1; 0-10-1) were on a 10-match losing streak - all in WCC play - entering the final home match of 2012.
But the tie still left Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson shaking his head.
"We got the tie. I don't know how the guys come up with these efforts game after game after game without the W's. It's a tribute to them," Thorarinsson said of his troops fighting through the losing skein.
The Bulldogs had two shots clang off the crossbar, one in the 13th minute by Lars Ludwigs - James Partee pushed the rebound just wide right - and one in the 92nd minute by Clark Phillips. Nick Hamer also had a golden opportunity to break the tie in the 87th minute. He took a thru ball deep down the right flank and Portland (7-9-2; 5-5-1) keeper Kyle Foster made a tip save over the far crossbar.
Foster was a surprise starter for the Pilots, having played only 55:34 this season, including the second half of Sunday's match. Justin Baarts has been the regular keeper all season for the Pilots, although he had nursed a leg injury at times this season and apparently showed no ill effects in his 45 minutes of action Sunday.
Thorarinsson said everyone gave a solid effort.
"I can go down the whole list of guys," Thorarinsson said. "Lars had a good goal and I thought we had another on the shot by Nick. We had some chances but the soccer Gods weren't with us.
"We shut down Ricardo Carrillo (5 goals and 14 points this season) and Steven Evans (14 goals and 31 points this season). Those were the two guys we were keying on, especially Evans," Thorarinsson said.
Carrillo had two shots, one on goal, while Evans had four shots but just one on goal.
Ludwigs gave Gonzaga the lead at 41:38 when he bent a free kick from 20 yards around the wall and to the near post for his third goal of the season and a halftime lead for the Bulldogs.
But the Pilots struck early in the second half. Thomas Iwasaki drove deep to the endline and sent a cross to Joe Sleven breaking down the middle inside the 6 for the goal as Gonzaga keeper Ryan Caballero had little chance of making the save.
Caballero made six saves to increase his career total to 232 for second on the al-time GU list, and none was bigger than his last one of the match. With less than 10 seconds to play Hemphill executed a perfect bicycle kick just out the 6 and Caballero barely tipped the ball over the crossbar.
He also denied Hemphill in the 77th minute when his shot from the right top of the 18 was tipped out of bounds to the far post by Caballero.
"Ryan came up big for us," Thorarinsson said.
One anxious moment from the Bulldogs came in the 104th minute when the Pilots scored the apparent match-winning goal but the play was ruled offside, the second time in as many matches a Bulldog opponent had a goal disallowed by an offside.
The Bulldogs, who played Friday and Sunday this past weekend, don't have any time to prepare for Friday's 7 p.m. season finale at the University of San Francisco. The Bulldogs will be on a plane Thursday.
Thorarinsson said both teams were playing with the same schedule Wednesday.
"They (Portland) had the same schedule as we did. I think you could tell in the end the guys were heavy footed on both teams. We're playing on absolute adrenalin," he said.