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Pilots Win Season-Opener OT Thriller

Sept. 1, 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. - The No. 4 Portland Pilots overcame an early score from No. 6 Florida State to win a thrilling 2-1 women's soccer match in overtime Saturday night at Merlo Field. A sellout crowd of 4,892 erupted as senior Rachael Rapinoe ended the season-opening affair late in the first overtime period.

Rapinoe took a long pass from senior defender Kelli Cronkrite and held off a Seminole defender before ripping a 12 yard shot past Florida State goalkeeper Erin McNulty to the lower right of the goal. Rapinoe, who moved to a forward position late last season and scored five playoff goals in four games, got her senior season off to a fast start.

"I never doubted that we were going to win this game tonight," Rapinoe said. "Kelli hit a great shot down the line and I told Michelle (Enyeart) that I wanted it. She let it go and I was able to slot a left-footed shot past the keeper. It was just an amazing night all the way around."

Florida State was unfazed early by the vocal sellout crowd and overflowing student section. The Seminoles temporarily quieted the frenzy when Holly Peltzer took a cross from Sanna Talonen and put FSU up 1-0 just 68 seconds into the run of play.

After numerous near misses, the Pilots equalized in the 66th minute as Enyeart bolted past three Seminoles down the right side and serviced a cross to the center of the box. A Seminole defender tried to settle and clear the ball, but Portland senior Natalie Budge charged hard, took the ball off of one hop and drilled a shot to the upper right.

After allowing the early goal, the Pilots settled down and controlled the pace for the remainder of the first half gaining an 8-3 advantage in shots, but McNulty made a pair of saves to keep the lead.

It was more of the same in the second half as UP gained a 7-3 edge in shots, but the Seminoles remained dangerous with some timely counter attacks and solid attempts from Mami Yamaguchi.

Pilot sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Davis had to fully extend on two occasions to snag attempts from Yamaguchi, one in each half. The Seminoles also had a late goal in regulation called back by an offside call.

Cronkrite nearly found the back of the net early in the second half for the Pilots, blasting a 25 yard shot that was tipped off the crossbar by McNulty.

Freshman midfielder Keelin Winters came on as a second half substitute and nearly scored on her first touch. Senior midfielder Angie Woznuk sent a corner kick that found the head of Winters. Her firm header was headed off the goal line by FSU defender Katrin Schmidt.

For the match, the Pilots gained a 17-8 edge in shot attempts and 10-6 advantage in corner kicks. Davis made four saves and McNulty five.

The Pilots were playing without injured All-American midfielder Megan Rapinoe (knee) and sophomore defender Megan Sweeney (knee).

Portland is also missing All-American defender Stephanie Lopez (USA) and redshirt freshman midfielder Sophie Schmidt (Canada) who will be competing at the 2007 World Cup.

Portland will take a day off before hosting Oregon State on Monday at 2:30 p.m. That match will be preceded by Florida State taking on Cal State Northridge at noon.

NOTES: In a pregame ceremony, the university dedicated its new FieldTurf practice field at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex in the name of Rev. Chester Prusynksi, C.S.C. Field, honoring the former accounting professor who has served the university community and been a fixture at Pilot athletic events since 1964. Portland received a $100,000 Grant through the U.S. Soccer Foundation's All Conditions Fields Program, which is a joint initiative with Nike's Let Me Play initiative, to help with the construction of the new pitch. Both organizations had representatives on hand for the dedication.