Pacific men's soccer gave its NCAA Tournament hopes a boost with a 1-0 win on the road in the final game of the regular season at Gonzaga. Senior Camden Riley scored his ninth goal of the year and sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Bandre picked up his first career shutout.
The Tigers took a 0-0 scoreline into halftime despite taking eight shots and nearly finding the back of the net on several opportunities. In the 64th minute, Gonzaga conceded a freekick to the Tigers that junior Andreas Charalambous took and sent into Riley who volleyed it into the net. The goal stood up to be the game-winner.
"I was really pleased to get the result and our guy's commitment to executing the game plan and what we were trying to do was great," Head coach Ryan Jorden said. "The conditions were tough and the field was kind of frozen but our guys applied themselves and got us to where we needed to be."
The Tigers opened the game with two changes to their lineup. Freshman Jose Sosa made the start in place of junior Jonathan Jimenez, who was serving a one-game suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend against Portland. Bandre got the start in between the sticks in place of junior goalkeeper Mateo Gomez. Both players were making their first start since early September.
Pacific started the game fast and played the majority of the opening 45 minutes in Gonzaga's defensive end. In the opening 10 minutes, Pacific took three shots, two of which were on target. Gonzaga did challenge Bandre once in the stretch.
In the 22nd minute, senior Johnatan Rico-Contreres looked to give the Tigers an early lead when he received the ball in Gonzaga's 18-yard box, settled and shot, but a Bulldog defender slid in to break up the opportunity.
In the final five minutes of the opening half, the Tigers looked as if they'd take a lead into the break after a couple of near goals. The first came after Charalambous received a pass in the penalty area and shot it wide. The second came after a cross that Sosa received and shot into the Gonzaga goalkeeper to send the game to halftime at 0-0.
In the second half, Pacific carried the same momentum into the final 45 minutes and were able to control possession and nearly score twice in the opening 15 minutes.
In the 64th minute, the Tigers did finally breakthrough on Riley's goal that Charalambous assisted on from a set piece. The goal was Riley's ninth and the 23rd point of the season. He set the program record for points in a season and tied the record for goals in a season since Pacific brought the program back in 2018.
Pacific's defense held on for the win despite a flurry of shots from Gonzaga in the final minutes including one that whizzed just past the left post as time expired.
The win, Pacific's 11th of the season, helped ensure at least a tie for second place in the WCC and with a Loyola Marymount win over San Francisco later this evening, the Tigers will finish the season in sole possession of second in the conference.
The win came in Pacific's final regular season match of the season. Pacific is in the running to be selected to its third straight NCAA Tournament. Tune into the NCAA Selection Show on Monday morning at 10 a.m. PST. Follow along with the Tigers on social media at @PacificMSoccer to see all of the reactions from the team. The NCAA Selection Show will be streamed live on NCAA.com.
- In the 26th minute, Gonzaga's Octavio Rivas picked up a yellow card for a foul that sent senior Bob Groenendijk to ground.
- In the 32nd minute, Gonzaga's Sam Turner was served a yellow card.
- Pacific outshot the Bulldogs 8-4 in the opening half and put three shots on target.
- In the 64th minute, senior Camden Riley scored his ninth goal of the year when he got on the end of a free-kick taken by Andreas Charalambous. The ball fell directly onto Riley's boot who fired it into the net to put the Tigers on top.
- In the 74th minute, Pacific's sophomore Cory Wright was booked after a sliding tackle from behind on a Gonzaga player.
- In the 76th minute, Pacific looked to score again when Freshman Jose Sosa put a ball into the goal after the Tigers strung together nine consecutive passes. However, the goal was flagged offside.
- Riley scored his ninth goal of the year and earned his 23rd point to set the single-season record and tie the record for goals in a season since 2014 when Pacific brought the men's soccer program back. The game-winning goal was his fourth of the season, which ties the program record.
- Sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Bandre earned his first career shutout and helped the Tigers to their sixth as a team this year.
More from coach Jorden:
This was a tough road trip. You had to fly to the match and it snowed the night before to make for conditions that the team hadn't seen yet this year. Yet, you still managed to control to the game and had a lot of chances early. Did you feel like a breakthrough was going to come earlier than it did?
"I thought we got into enough dangerous positions and put enough balls into areas that were going to potentially allow for us to score a goal. We're disappointed to not take a lead sooner which would've taken a little bit of pressure off of having to try to create chances in the manner that we did. We're happy that we broke through when we did and certainly, we did a good job seeing the game out."
The goal came off of a set piece. Looking back the team hasn't scored a ton of goals in those situations. How happy were you to score from one?
"Any goal would have made us really happy. The reality is that we talked a little bit about some of the things that we wanted to try to do with set pieces in those areas. I think we had good execution from it."
No player has scored more points in a season than Camden Riley has since you came to Pacific. What has his impact been on this program as well as the season?
"He's been a really important performer for us. He's scored five in the conference and nine overall and the assists to go with it. He's playing at a really high level right now and I think it would be challenging for someone to tell me that they have someone playing better in the conference right now."
You close the season out with 11 wins. Where does the team stand in your eyes as a potential NCAA Tournament team?
"From an RPI standpoint, we feel like we're in a pretty good position with our body of work and wins against top-25 teams. You would hope that with an RPI in the top-30 and our body of work, you'd have an opportunity to not only be in the tournament but have an opportunity to host in the first round."