PORTLAND, Ore. -- Junior defender Bobby Conner scored twice, including the 93rd minute game-winner, to lead the Saint Mary's men's soccer team to a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory at the University of Portland on a rainy evening at Merlo Field.
With the victory, Saint Mary's moves to 7-8-2 overall and 5-4-2 in West Coast Conference play. The Gaels remain in sole possession of third place in the league standings and will play their final game of the year Sunday afternoon at Gonzaga. SMC has 17 total points in league play, two more than the fourth-place Bulldogs.
Portland fell to 8-11-0 overall and 3-8-0 in league competition. The Pilots conclude their season Sunday afternoon at home against San Francisco.
Saint Mary's outshot the Pilots 13-11 overall and 6-3 in attempts on frame. Both teams attempted six corner kicks and the Pilots committed just one more foul at 11-10. Saint Mary's sophomore goalkeeper Lucas Champenois made two saves to earn the win and move to 3-2-1 on the year. Portland keeper Justin Baarts made four saves, allowed both goals and fell to 3-7-0.
The Gaels have had plenty of experience in overtime games this season, requiring extra time in a program-most 11 of their 17 matches this year. SMC is 3-4-4 in overtime matches, but have won their last two after knocking off San Diego 2-1 on Nov. 3 in addition to tonight's result.
"Honestly, we played pretty well today," said SMC head coach Adam Cooper. "Bobby scored a great goal early and Portland responded with a great finish just a few minutes later. In the second half, we had several chances to score. We hit the crossbar and missed two breakaways and, for most of the half, looked like the better side."
Both teams scored early in the match as a light rain fell at Portland's Merlo Field. Conner headed-in a well-struck ball off a Michael Semenza corner kick attempt to give Saint Mary's an early 1-0 lead in the third minute of the match.
The Pilots struck just six minutes later when midfielder Matthew Coffey finished a chance to the upper left corner in the ninth minute. He intercepted a pass deep in the Gaels' defensive end, took a couple of touches and blasted a shot that Champenois could do very little about.
After going the next 81 minutes without a score, the two teams went into overtime. The Gaels held the majority of possession throughout the extra time and broke through when Semenza sent a cross into the penalty area in the 93rd minute. Conner broke through the defense and headed the ball past Baarts for his third goal of the year.
"A win or tie Sunday would give us third-place in the league outright, which isn't bad considering we were picked fifth in the preseason," said Cooper. "But, we are going to have to be on our game at Gonzaga. They will be highly-motivated since they still have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and a win for them would mean a great deal to the success of their season."