Pacific Men’s Soccer Punches Ticket to NCAA Tournament
The Pacific men’s soccer team dueled Gonzaga to a 1-1 double overtime tie on Saturday in the Tigers’ final game of the regular season. In a great improvement from last year’s 1-15-1 finish, the 2016 squad posted the best record the program has seen since its inception in 2014, finishing 12-3-2 overall. The team went 4-1-2 in the WCC, good for second place behind Portland. Following the final game, on Monday morning, it was announced that the team was selected to compete in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship for the program’s first-ever appearance in the “Big Dance.”
Saturday’s match saw the Tiger’s take control early, when in the 17th minute midfielder Julio Cervantes ’17 scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season off an assist from midfielder Andres Ochoa ‘18, which gave him four assists for the year.
The Tigers held the 1-0 lead through the rest of the first half and into the second half, but one of the Bulldogs’ 12 shot attempts finally found its way into Pacific’s goal via the head of Gonzaga’s Gon Ulowetz in the 62nd minute. The score stayed tied at 1-1 for the rest of regulation, and the match moved on to overtime.
Goalkeeper Curtis Goldsmith ‘18 continued his great work in front of the net during overtime, but the Tigers were not able to capitalize on opportunities on the other end. Neither team was able to score in two overtime periods, and the game ended in a draw.
This match wrapped up the regular season for a Pacific squad that consistently thrilled Tiger fans here in Stockton and frustrated opponents’ fans on the road. Pacific stepped up to protect the house by going 6-2-1 at Knoles Field, and they performed even better when they played away, finishing 6-1-1 as visitors.
As mentioned earlier, Julio Cervantes had a great year, leading the team with nine goals and adding three assists. Cervantes was named First Team WCC along with forward Tristan Blackmon ’18, who scored four goals and led the squad with five assists. Midfielder Camden Riley ’19 also scored four times and tallied three assists; he was named WCC Honorable Mention.
Forward Anthony Orendain ‘20 had a nice start to his collegiate career, recording three goals and three assists in his freshman year. He and Andreas Charalambous ‘20 were both named to the WCC All-Freshman Team. Charalambous started all 17 games and played good defense.
WCC Second Team defender Wouter Verstraaten ’19 had a solid season as well; he also started all 17 games, posting one goal and two assists. Curtis Goldsmith started 15 games at goalkeeper, totaling 45 saves with a .776 save percentage. He had five shutouts on the season and was named WCC Second Team. Midfielder Ander Saez ‘17 was also recognized as a WCC Honorable Mention.
On Monday morning, the team discovered that they had earned an opportunity to continue their outstanding season. The NCAA men’s soccer selection committee announced that Pacific would face Cal State Northridge in the first round of the tournament. The Tigers will play at Northridge tonight at 7 p.m. as they look to take their first step toward glory amongst a field of 47 other teams. Congratulations Tigers, on making Pacific proud, and good luck in tonight’s match!