Portland advances to the College Cup
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Payback was sweet for the Portland Pilots. Freshman Megan Rapinoe had two goals and an assist and the top-ranked Pilots advanced to the College Cup for the eighth time, beating No. 5 Notre Dame 3-1 in the NCAA Division I women's soccer quarterfinal Friday night.
Rapinoe pumped her fist and leaped into the arms of teammates to celebrate as Portland avenged last year's quarterfinal loss to the Irish, the most recent game in a heated rivalry she called "The Catholic Clash."
"Payback is kind of sweet," striker Christine Sinclair said. "Last year they did the same thing to us that we just did to them."
The Pilots (22-0-1) advance to the semifinal round against Penn State Dec. 2 in College Station, Texas. Florida State and UCLA also advanced.
Notre Dame had the Pilots on the defensive in the early going, but that changed swiftly when Rapinoe broke free at 13:59 and blasted the ball past Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn from about 25 feet out.
That rejuvenated the Pilots, who went up 2-0 when midfielder Lindsay Huie scored off an assist from Rapinoe a few minutes later. Three of the first nine shots went into the net. Brittany Bock got the Irish on the board with a goal at 24:41, but Rapinoe netted her 14th goal of the season at 54:21.
"It was hard to come back after that," said Irish star Katie Thorlakson, who had an assist on Bock's goal. The Irish had 14 shots on goal to the Pilots' 13. Portland goalkeeper Cori Alexander had five saves, including two crucial ones in the final minutes as the Irish fired away in desperation.
Notre Dame (22-3-0) entered the game having dominated the rivalry, going 7-3 since 1992. Notre Dame's 3-1 win that sent the Pilots home last year left a bitter taste, but built anticipation for this season.
Tickets for this game, held at 5,000-seat Merlo Field, sold out in less than 10 minutes when tickets went on sale Monday.
Sinclair, who is the second leading all-time scorer in NCAA history, had just one shot on goal and remains one goal short of breaking the single-season record of 37 set by Lisa Cole of Southern Methodist in 1987.
The Irish entered the game having won 13 games in a row by a combined score of 60-3, while the Pilots had 15 shutouts on the season.
The Pilots, who were the 2002 National Champions under the late Clive Charles, feel confident heading into their match with Penn State, the only other undefeated team in the nation.
"When we are playing our best, we're pretty much unstoppable," Huie said. "We've been playing our best for a few games now."