Stockton, Calif. – One goal was all they needed Sunday afternoon as the Pacific men's soccer team topped the visiting Portland Pilots 1-0, handing the visitors their first conference loss of the year. The Tigers now sit at 12-3-1 overall, 4-1-1 in WCC play and the Pilots drop to 11-5-1, 5-1 in conference action.
The first half kicked off with both teams trading chances but were both kept out of the net. Both goalies logged three saves each in the first 45 minutes of action with Pacific rifling off six shots compared to the Pilots' four. In the 43rd minute Jonathan Rico-Contreres, who was fresh off the bench, received a pass midfield and dribbled up to the top of the box looking to give the Tigers the advantage. The sophomore fired off shot that beat the goalie but it sailed just high over the crossbar, and we headed into the intermission in a scoreless tie.
Pacific broke through in the 52nd minute as Bob Groenendyk stole the ball from a defender and sent a perfect dish to Tristan Blackmon who was on the right side of the box. Blackmon then went in and sent a shot to the far post that made it past the leaping Paul Christensen to give the Orange and Black the 1-0 advantage.
Defensively the Tigers were stout on their backline, allowing just one shot in the second half of play. In the 76th minute the Pilots were awarded a free kick roughly ten yards outside of the box. Eddie Sanchez sent his cross into the crowded box but goalie Curtis Goldsmith made a leaping pick to deny the scoring chance. The junior 'keeper would end up with four saves and, most importantly, his sixth shutout of the year.
The season continues next week for the Tigers as they head up to Gonzaga to take on the Bulldogs next Saturday at 6 PM in their regular season finale. The Tigers will need a win against the Bulldogs to stay alive in their WCC Championship quest while Portland, who remains in first place, will need a loss or a tie against Saint Mary's next Saturday night.
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