Pacific men's soccer picked up a big win in Los Angeles tonight that could take the Tigers a long way toward their first WCC title with a 1-0, victory over Loyola Marymount.
Senior Camden Riley scored his seventh goal of the season and his third game-winner in a wild match that saw Loyola Marymount have a goalkeeper sent off for a harsh challenge in the penalty area. The match also saw the Tigers have two penalty kicks saved by the goalkeeper that replaced the one that conceded the first penalty kick.
"It was an incredibly competitive game with two teams knowing there's a lot at stake," head coach Ryan Jorden said. "We didn't feel like we gave our best performance, but you're always pleased to go on the road and get a 1-0 result."
Riley's goal came in the 60th minute when the Tigers struck with a flowing offensive move that was started by a long pass from junior Andreas Charalambous to junior Jonathan Jimenez who turned on a dime to beat an LMU defender and pass to Riley who tapped in the game-winner. It was Jimenez's team-leading fifth assist of the season. Riley also leads the Tigers in goals.
After Riley's goal, the game went haywire. It could have easily ended 3-0 in favor of the Tigers due to mistakes by the Lion's goalkeepers that led to penalty kicks, but the Tigers failed to convert on either thanks to clutch saves from LMU's replacement goalie, Mitchell Wilson.
Loyola Marymount did all it could to equalize in the closing minutes by taking two shots in the final seconds and a total of 12 in the second half, but the Tigers and their defense would not be denied. Pacific's goalkeeper Mateo Gomez, with the help of the Tiger defense, logged their second-straight shutout and the fifth of the season.
Elsewhere in the league, things got much more interesting at the top of the table. No. 7 Portland fell on the road to San Francisco, 2-1, which bumped the Tigers up to second in the WCC standings. In San Diego, No. 4 Saint Mary's failed to win for the first time this season when San Diego scored in the 85th minute to force overtime and eventually a draw. With the tie in the Saint Mary's and San Diego match, Pacific is now just two points behind the Gaels in the standings. With a Pacific win and a Saint Mary's loss on Sunday, Pacific will sit atop the standings with two games to play.
- The two teams were content to play possession-based football in the opening 45 minutes as the Tigers and Lions both only took a combined six shots in the half. Accuracy was at a premium however as two of LMU's shots challenged Gomez and the Tigers put both of theirs on target.
- In the 32nd minute, LMU's Matthew Gooden was served a yellow card.
- In the 42nd minute, LMU's Will Dubay was served a yellow card.
- In the 60th minute, Camden Riley scored his seventh goal of the season when he got on the end of a pass from Jonathan Jimenez who found space with a nifty move to beat an LMU defender and earn his fifth assist of the season.
- In the 63rd minute, LMU's Jack Sauls was served a yellow card.
- In the 69th minute, LMU's goalkeeper, Paul Wilson was served a red card for a harsh challenge in the penalty area on Camden Riley. Wilson's sending off forced LMU to finish out with 10 men and gave the Tigers an opportunity to double their lead. Riley took the penalty kick, but the replacement goalie, Mitchell Wilson, dove to his right to save the penalty shot. LMU's Nick Dauchot was also served a yellow card in during the sequence.
- In the 79th minute, LMU's Gerardo Lopez was served a yellow card.
- In the 83rd minute, Pacific's Mateo Gomez picked up a yellow card, his first of the season.
- In the 85th minute, Pacific's Jimenez picked up a yellow card, his fourth of the season.
- In the 90th minute, Pacific had another chance at a penalty kick goal when Wilson dove at the legs of a free Tiger in the area to concede a penalty. Wilson was served a yellow card and LMU's head coach was served a red card. Johnatan Rico-Contreres stepped up to take the kick for the Tigers, picked the same spot as Riley did on the previous, but Wilson guessed right again to save the penalty.
More from coach Jorden:
Camden Riley scored his third goal in three games. What did you think of his play tonight?
"I wish he would've scored three. You need guys to help you win games and score goals and he's doing that right now, so we're happy about it."
Two straight shutouts from your defense and Mateo Gomez, what have you liked about their play lately?
"Anytime you can pitch a shutout, that's a positive. I think the hard part is that we didn't do the things that we're capable of which resulted in us having to absorb so much pressure. Our job is to go back and look at some of the film and try to solve a couple of small things that will keep us from having to soak up so much pressure in moments where we shouldn't have to."
Loyola Marymount played you guys tough and picked up eight bookings in the match. I know you're unhappy with the two late yellow cards, but what did you think of your team's job of just focusing on taking care of their business?
"I was pleased with our guys that that many yellow cards went out and we stayed out of the book. I was pleased that our mentality withheld."
It's nice to have your fate in your own hands and with the results around the league, the outlook changed a lot in favor of your team. How great is it to find yourselves in a position where you just have to take care of your own business?
"That's all we ever worry about. We just try to control what we can and go out and get the next result. I don't think that anyone right now has started to think about our next game at San Diego except for me. My job is to make sure we're prepared and ready to go on Sunday and the guys just have to get themselves ready between now and then."
Pacific takes on San Diego on Sunday in a 2 p.m. match. Potentially, with a Saint Mary's loss and a Tiger win, Pacific can go to the top of the WCC table.