Nov. 19, 2006
AUSTIN, Tex. - The defending national champions are one step closer to a repeat, blanking No. 1-seeded Texas 2-0 in third round action Sunday afternoon. Juniors Rachael Rapinoe and Natalie Budge each tallied goals and senior keeper Cori Alexander had nine saves to lead the Pilots to victory.
Portland (17-3-3) advances to the quarterfinals where it will play at UCLA (20-3) on Friday, Nov. 24 at 6:00 p.m. The game will be a rematch of the 2005 NCAA championship game in which the Pilots earned their second title with a 4-0 win. UCLA defeated Florida 3-2 on Friday to advance.
"Give us a lot of credit for coming in here and taking care of business," head coach Garrett Smith said. The Pilots have now won three consecutive games on the road during the 2006 playoffs and are 8-0 all-time against the Longhorns. "For whatever reason, we feel comfortable in Texas. There is great hospitality and a great venue."
Rapinoe continued her excellent postseason play, giving the Pilots a 1-0 lead just three minutes and 14 seconds into the game after receiving a short pass from Budge and blasting a shot from 35 yards out into the top right corner of the net. The strike was Rapinoe's fourth goal of the playoffs and eighth overall on the season while Budge tallied her eighth assist.
"My team asked me to score early to set the tempo, so I just saw the ball, set it up and put it into the side of the net," Rapinoe said. "It's always a relief to get a goal early."
Budge provided Portland an insurance goal with less than 10 minutes remaining at the 80:55 mark, receiving an Angie Woznuk corner kick and firing a shot from a tough angle past Texas keeper Diana Pfenninger from the left side of the box. Budge now has nine goals on the year while Woznuk recorded her team-leading 13th assist.
Alexander also became Portland's all-time career leader in saves, passing former Pilots great Michelle Voiland. Alexander, already the school leader in career shutouts, now has 259 saves for her career.
After Rapinoe's early goal, momentum shifted to Texas as the Longhorns began applying pressure on the Pilot goal. Kelsey Carpenter nearly headed in the equalizer in the 14th minute, but Alexander dove to her left to make the clutch save. Carpenter was a menace to the Pilot defense all game, ending with 10 shots, 7 on goal.
Alexander continued to come up big in the first half, making six saves and snuffing several threatening attacks as Portland was unable to generate much offense in the first period, managing only two shots compared to 10 for Texas.
"When we get a goal early, it's a nice feeling," Alexander said. "But at the same time we don't want to let down. We still have 85 minutes of soccer to play. Our defense played their tails off."
For the game, Texas outshot Portland 20-12.
"Texas did everything but win this game," Smith said. "It was a great effort from a great top seed."
The Pilots came out of halftime aggressively, taking three shots in the first five minutes of the second period. Portland
Rapinoe nearly put Portland up 2-0 in the 74th minute as she got past the Texas back line, but Pfenninger was in perfect position to make the save. Pfenninger finished the match with five saves.
Texas finally broke through to have a good opportunity with 12 minutes to go as Amy Burlingham got free in the box and ripped a shot on goal, but Alexander was there for the crucial save.
The Longhorns tried to increase the offensive pressure after Budge put Portland up 2-0 in the 81st minute, but the Pilot defense remained solid and maintained the shutout.
Freshman striker Michelle Enyeart, who leads the team with 16 goals, was available but did not make an appearance after suffering an injury in Portland's second-round match against Utah.
With the victory, the Portland soccer program adds another fond memory from Texas' Mike Myers stadium. Portland won its first championship in 2002 in Austin.