Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy Portland Athletics

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Pilots earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over the visiting James Madison Dukes in an NCAA Third Round game on Saturday night at a sold-out Merlo Field. The Pilots, who have won a program-best 19 straight games, advance to the quarterfinals for the fifth straight year and for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.

Portland improves to 20-1-0 on the season, while the Dukes finish with a 14-7-2 mark.

The Pilots are tentatively scheduled to play at Stanford on Friday at 7:00 p.m. Details of the quarterfinal match-up should be finalized on Monday.

James Madison provided a stiff test for the Pilots, who received goals from freshman Danielle Foxhoven, sophomore Jessica Tsao and junior Korie Nicholson.

The Dukes came out aggressively and connected on their first shot of the game to take a 1-0 advantage in the sixth minute. Teresa Rynier finished on a perfectly placed cross from Jess Remmes. Rynier scored from 12 yards out into the left side of the net.

Trailing for just the third time this season, the Pilots nearly equalized a couple of times before Foxhoven found the back of the net in the 35th minute. On a free kick from senior Megan Rapinoe on the left flank, Foxhoven went top shelf with a header for her team-high 16th strike of the season. Rapinoe picked up the assist.

With the score tied at 1-1, Tsao gave Portland its first lead of the game in brilliant fashion. After receiving a pass from Foxhoven, Tsao took a couple of touches before ripping a shot into the top left corner of the net from 18 yards out. JMU keeper Diane Wszalek never stood a chance on Tsao's first career strike.

After Portland took a 2-1 lead into the locker room, Nicholson scored what would prove to be the game-winner in the 55th minute. Nicolson's strike was the third shot in a series of attempts from the Pilots in about a ten-second span. Freshman Kassi McCluskie took the first shot, which was saved off the goal line by Remmes. Rapinoe then took a crack on the rebound, but her attempt was saved by Wszalek.

Wszalek was unable to gather in the Rapinoe shot, allowing Foxhoven to somehow get the ball to Nicholson, who punched it in from six yards out to give UP the 3-1 advantage. It's the second goal this season for Nicholson and the second assist of the game for Foxhoven.

The Dukes refused to go away and pulled within a goal in the 84th minute. Corky Julien and Cate Tisinger connected on a nifty give-and-go play to make it a 3-2 game. Julien initially fed Tisinger, who gave it back to Julien at the top of the box. She finished inside the right post.

But the Pilots and UP junior goalkeeper Kelsey Davis were able to hold on from there.

Davis made one stop on the night, while Wszalek made six saves for the Dukes. JMU also had a pair of team saves.

The Pilots finished with a 25-8 advantage in overall shots and an 11-3 edge in shots on-goal.

The sellout was the third this season for Portland, which played its final home game of the fall. The Saturday night crowd of 4,879 ensures that Portland will lead the nation in both average and overall attendance this year. UP's total attendance for the season of 47,082 obliterates the previous women's soccer record total attendance for one season, which was set by Portland in 2005 (40,841). Portland remains the only school in women's soccer history to crack the 40,000 mark.

The average attendance of 3,623 at Merlo Field this fall is slightly below last year's (3,771) average and is the third highest in NCAA women's history.