MORAGA, Calif. — In the final game of the regular season, the Saint Mary’s men’s soccer team (8-7-3, 4-2 WCC) will lay it all out on the field and try to keep its postseason hopes alive, as the team will travel to what will be a loud and tough environment at Portland’s Merlo Field.
Kickoff between the Gaels and Pilots is slated for Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. with live coverage available through GaelVision on SMCGaels.com. The Pilots will host their senior night, with nine graduating student-athletes on the roster.
After upending Gonzaga, 3-1 on Senior Day, the Gaels can clinch the WCC title with a win versus the Pilots, and a Pacific loss or draw at Gonzaga. By clinching the conference title, the Gaels would advance to the postseason for the first time since the 2011 season.
“The boys are excited and looking forward to the big game Saturday,” said Saint Mary’s head coach Adam Cooper. “You always want to have something to play for in that last game and we have put ourselves in a position to do exactly that.”
The Gaels have won their past three matches, and remained perfect at home in conference action. Hosting GU in the season’s last home game, SMC displayed a complete game that opened with a breakaway goal by first year striker Joseph Restani. Fellow first year striker Anders Engebretsen scored a brace to lift the Gaels with the impressive victory over the Bulldogs.
The last time the two teams met was in November 2015, when the Gaels shutout the Pilots, 2-0 with a masterful defensive performance that prevented any shots on goal.
The Gaels understand the magnitude of the match, and what is exactly at stake. The team also knows the culture and how the home field advantage plays a large part in why it is difficult to play against the Pilots.
“We have had a good week of training trying to replicate what we believe we will see in Portland,” said Cooper about the loud music and drums during the team’s training sessions. “We will control what we can, and go up there and give absolutely everything we have.”
“We will represent Saint Mary’s College as best as we can and hopefully bring back the title and celebrate the championship with everyone who has supported us so well throughout the year.”
With experienced veterans and explosive youth, the Gaels will be ready for whatever comes their way in the final regular season game of 2016.
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