Pacific men's soccer earned the right to host the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year, but after a strange twist of events, the Tigers went to Fresno Pacific University to defeat UC Riverside and advance to the second round of the NCAAs.
"I love winning games in the Tournament," head coach Ryan Jorden said with a big smile after the game. "I was super proud of the guys. We thought we were going to be playing at home today and with the air quality concerns, we had to change plans. It's great when your team is adaptable and we started well tonight. I liked the way we went about things. Really proud of the guys with what we implemented tactically. They did a very good job of managing the opponent with the exception of a few times. We did a good job."\
The day started with the Tigers in search of a new place to call home for the day after the air quality in Stockton did not allow the game to be played on the friendly confines of Knoles Field. The game was relocated to Ramirez Field on the campus of Fresno Pacific University which hasn't dealt with as much smoke from the wildfires in northern California.
The Tigers went with the same starting lineup that won them their final match against Gonzaga with the addition on junior Jonathan Jimenez who returned from a suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card two games ago. He got the start over Haden Hoel.
Pacific's offense took the game to Riverside in the opening minutes by taking two shots and holding the ball in the Riverside end for most of the first 20 minutes. In the 23rd minute, Anthony Orendain scored his third of the year to give Pacific a lead.
The Tigers would go on to outshoot Riverside in the first half, but just by three shots. The Highlanders gave the Tigers everything they could to find an equalizer and as the game wound down, Riverside pushed high up the field and put several very good chances on goal that caused problems for the Tiger defense.
Bandre ended up making four saves in the match to post the shutout and see the Tigers past UC Riverside for the second time this season. He also made an acrobatic save on a well struck shot early in the match.
This is the third-straight year that Pacific has won in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers will look to keep rolling into the sweet-sixteen with a win over Duke on Sunday in Durham. A win would be Pacific's first in an NCAA Second Round matchup.
More from Coach Jorden:
Was it an issue keeping the guys focused on the game with the change of venue in a short time period?
"Honestly, I didn't think it was an issue. You try to put your team in a position where they deal with different things and adversity. We've had to deal with a few overtime games this year and I think those things make you tougher and give you strength because you have to fight. If you look at our record in overtimes, we deal with adversity well. I told them at noon of the situation and said 'we depart in an hour and a half. Go get lunch and take care of yourselves.' They just looked at me like, okay. An hour and a half later we were on the bus on the way to Fresno. I Thought the guys were brilliant. Games like this are hard especially when you're playing a team that you've played once already. I think having to go on the road made it different for us than being at home."
What was different from UC Riverside this time around?
"If you look at a couple of the chances that we didn't take, it could have been 3-0. They did a really good job coaching their team. Obviously, their second half of the season was very, very good. They're difficult to beat. They're organized and have pieces that ask a lot of you from a defending standpoint."
"We knew all along that we have multiple keepers that can compete to play. You try to read your team and make decisions that will be beneficial. Ethan was very good for us at Gonzaga last weekend and came up tonight with one very big save and did a good job of managing the group in front of him. He did a good job."
Next up is Duke, a good team with a little more rest than you. What challenges does a long trip present?
"This is the way the tournament works. If you play on Thursday, you're always going to a team that been sitting and resting. The good thing for our guys is that they've done this the last two years. We went to penalties last year with Stanford, which obviously finished the tournament pretty well by winning it. For our guys, we know the process. We have to work to get the recovery part in so that we can be in a situation to have a good performance when we get there."