Nov. 28, 2009
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The Portland Pilots seemed on their way to another NCAA College Cup after an early goal on the road, but the UCLA Bruins used speed, physicality and some lucky bounces to earn a 2-1 comeback victory in an NCAA quarterfinal matchup Saturday night at Drake Stadium. The Bruins (21-2-1) advance to face No. 1 Stanford in the semifinals, while the Pilots (21-2-0) conclude the season with the second most wins in school history.
Portland took a 1-0 lead just 2:01 into the run of play when junior midfielder Kendra Chandhoke dispossessed a Bruin defender and crossed a pass to leading scorer Danielle Foxhoven. The sophomore striker took one touch and deftly finished her 25th goal of the season inside the right post from 20 yards out.
The lead would stand for 28 minutes despite heavy offensive pressure from the host Bruins. UCLA finally equalized in the 31st minute on an unfortunate deflection. Bruins midfielder Kylie Wright sent what seemed to be a hopeful shot from about 30 yards out to the right post. The attempt glanced off of UP defender Michelle Olivier and redirected to the left post, leaving Pilot goalkeeper Kelsey Davis, who was originally in position for an easy save, with no chance to stop the ball.
"It was an unfortunate deflection," Portland junior midfielder Keelin Winters said. "We've been taught to block shots and it was unfortunate that it went off Michelle, who was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing as a center back... It was unlucky."
UCLA turned the momentum into a lead three minutes later when U.S. National Team forward Lauren Cheney got behind the Pilot defense and clinically finished with her left foot to the upper right. It was Cheney's 17th goal of the season.
The Bruins continued to use speed and physicality to keep Portland from getting into an attacking rhythm and used a counter-attack to create another goal-scoring opportunity in the 56th minute. After the Pilot defense gave the ball away deep in the attacking zone, Chelsea Cline came darting through the middle and received a pass from Sydney Leroux. Winters attempted a slide tackle from behind and seemed to get mostly ball, but a yellow card was dealt to Winters on the hard challenge and a PK was awarded to UCLA as Cline went down in a heap. Cheney toed the spot, but her attempt went off the crossbar and Portland would pick up the pace on offense after the missed opportunity.
The Pilots would have multiple chances for the equalizer down the stretch by racking up seven corner kicks and five shot attempts in the last 17 minutes of action. Foxhoven nearly put a corner service directly into the goal, but it was booted away by a UCLA defender in the 83rd minute. Foxhoven's final three corner kicks in the last seven minutes all had Pilots on the receiving end with dangerous chances, but nothing materialized into a goal.
It marks the third time in the last four years that Portland's season ended in the quarterfinals at Drake Stadium by 1-goal margins. The Bruins also knocked the Pilots out of the playoffs in 2006 (2-1) and 2007 (3-2, 2ot).
"It should be a close game in the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs," Portland head coach Garrett Smith said of the outcome. "It sometimes comes down to a little bit of luck. UCLA is a great team playing at home, and they put us on our heels. We battled back trying to dig ourselves out of our hole, but this is a tough place to get a win. I'm proud of our team."
Portland will graduate four players on the 2009 roster as seniors Kelsey Davis, Megan Sweeney, Janelle Jacka and Michelle Enyeart officially concluded their collegiate careers. Enyeart, an All-America striker, missed all of the postseason after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the regular season finale.
(Story courtesy of University of Portland Sports Information)