Oregonian Season Preview Article

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Oregonian Season Preview Article

Post by DaTruRochin on Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:54 pm


Keelin Winters is selfish, but in a good way.

The senior midfielder on the University of Portland women's soccer team has never played in a national semifinal or championship game. She wants to reach the final four and win a national title. This is Winters' and her fellow seniors' final opportunity.

The thought of ending her career without reaching a national semifinal game, let alone winning a national title, is a notion that Winters would rather not have to consider.

"Back in the spring, a couple of the seniors sat the team down and said, 'Listen, it's our senior year and our last
chance,'" Winters said. "In my freshman, sophomore and junior years, I thought, 'Man, I've got next year.' But now it's my senior year and it's here for me."

Winters and the Pilots begin their quest to reachthose goals when they play host to Portland State on Friday night at Merlo Field. The game against the Vikings commences a nonconference schedule that features matchups against nationally ranked teams. The Pilots, ranked fifth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, will face Texas A&M (No. 8 and the only team to defeat the Pilots during the regular season last year), Penn State (No. 13), Rutgers (No. 18) and Oklahoma State (No. 22).

The beefed-up nonconference schedule is the Pilots' response to feeling disrespected by the NCAA tournament selection committee last year. UCLA received one of the four No. 1 seeds in last year's tournament and Portland received a No. 2 seed despite being No. 2 in the coaches poll and No. 3 in the Ratings Percentage Index, ahead of UCLA (No. 3 and No. 5, respectively).

The seeding resulted in the Pilots' traveling to Los Angeles to face UCLA in a quarterfinal game. The Pilots lost 2-1, marking their fourth consecutive loss in the tournament quarterfinals, with each game on the road.

The Pilots insist the results might have been different had they played at home. This year they want to play a stronger nonconference schedule, win those games and win their fourth consecutive West Coast Conference title.

"It's just one of things where you think about, 'What if? What if we had beaten or tied Texas A&M last year to get the number one seeding?' We could've made it to the Final Four if we would have had home field advantage," Winters said. "The tough teams that we're going to face in the preseasongives us a little more incentive to take care of business and put thoseteams away."

Scheduling tough opponents in the preseason comes with risks. Winning those games will help the Pilots when the selection committee makes its decisions, but losing any or all of the games won't help at all.

"I feel like we're chasing our tails a little bit," Pilots coach Garrett Smith said. "We're trying to appease to what they said kept us out of the playoffs and having home games from year to year. We can't take anything for granted, because you can never anticipate what your strength of schedule will be."

The Pilots return eight starters from a team that finished 21-2 in 2009, but the Pilots must fill the voids created by the departure of all-American striker Michelle Enyeart and three-year starting goalkeeper Kelsey Davis.

"After the loss (to UCLA), we stepped back and asked ourselves, 'Where do we go from here?' We knew we needed to make a change," junior striker Danielle Foxhoven said. "On the field, we've brought a fighting mentality. Before, maybe we weren't so confident in ourselves to be able to do that. Now, we know that we have to bring it every day."

The Pilots' attack starts with Foxhoven. She finished with 25 goals and 12 assists, and her 62 points are fourth-most in the school's single-season history. Foxhoven was the first player in Pilots history to record two four-goal games in aseason.

Smith said Foxhoven's scoring was aided by the presence of Enyeart, but he expects the junior to continue scoring goals this season.

"We just have to attack in greater numbers to allow Danielle to get in front of the goal and do her job, which is to score goals," Smith said. "If we can do what I think we're capable of, I don't see why Danielle couldn't do what she did last year."

The Pilots expect to score a bunch of goals this season, but their attention will be focused on the last line of defense in the goal. Redshirt junior Hailee DeYoung, who started four games last season, is expected to start.

"Even though she may not have the game experience, she has all the tactics and techniques that come from (goalkeeper coach)
Bill (Irwin) being able to work with her for two years," Smith said. "Our first goal is not letting any goals in as a team and that takes a little bit of the pressure off an inexperienced goalkeeper."

The Pilots have a long history of deep playoff runs, so reaching the playoffs is assumed as a given among the players. The pressure builds when the squad tries to replicate the 2002 and 2005 national championship teams.

"It's definitely a tradition and a belief that we have now," Smith said. "Everybody that comes here believes they are going to win."

UP defender Jessica Tsao is one of 30 women's soccer players selected as candidates for the 2010 Lowe's Senior CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School Award.


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Re: Oregonian Season Preview Article

Post by Harry Redknapp on Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:28 pm

Interesting to hear them talk about early season schedule. Conscious choice to go for tough games to boost rankings.

Fortune favors the bold: go Pilots!

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Re: Oregonian Season Preview Article

Post by fozziewozzie on Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:18 pm

to address the lowe's note in this thread.

my favorite thing was to see jess nominated as one of the LOWE"S senior class! if we start now in casting our votes for jess, but the time the season ends in early december, jess should be so far ahead of the other prospects will have no chance at all!!

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Re: Oregonian Season Preview Article

Post by Geezaldinho on Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:45 pm

Harry Redknapp wrote:Interesting to hear them talk about early season schedule. Conscious choice to go for tough games to boost rankings.

Fortune favors the bold: go Pilots!

fortes' inquit 'fortuna iuvat indeed.

but remember, Pliny died right after he said it.

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