Despite having nothing to play for but pride and Tacoma bragging rights going into the final Northwest Conference game of the season against University of Puget Sound, the Pacific Lutheran University Men’s soccer team gave a good account of themselves, but ultimately fell 2-1 at UPS in Tacoma.
“It’s a rough loss against these guys because I felt like we played really well,” sophomore midfielder Diego Aceves said. “We can only go up from here.”
With the UPS football team playing Linfield in the main stadium, the game was moved to the smaller, more rugged grass field; a tactic usually used by UPS head coach Reece Olney whenever the Lutes make the short trip across town.
“I thought they showed a lot of heart and determination,” PLU head coach John Yorke said. “We were a bit unlucky to not win or at least tie the game, but give credit to UPS for doing what they do well.”
Whenever the Lutes and Loggers play, it is almost guaranteed to be physical, and the wet grass made for multiple slips and hard sliding tackles from both sides.
Knowing that only a win would keep their faint chances of winning the NWC title alive, UPS came out after its Senior Night ceremony fast, putting immediate pressure on PLU junior goalkeeper Mike Arguello and the Lute defense.
The conditions made for some sloppy passing, and a couple of defensive miskicks allowed UPS to grow in confidence on the attack.
Both teams had opportunities early on to break the deadlock, and in the 19th minute, the Loggers’ persistence paid off.
A couple of quick passes, UPS’ midfield got the ball to the top of PLU’s box, where forward Andrew White had found some space.
Taking one touch, White’s sliding, left-footed shot looped over Arguello and into the net to give the Loggers a 1-0 score midway through the first half.
“We had a couple of very good chances that if we would’ve finished, it could have changed the game,” Yorke said.
It almost went from bad to worse just minutes later.
After a header off of a UPS corner was destined for the top corner of Arguello’s goal, Aceves, stationed on the post, somehow managed to head the ball off of the crossbar and away to safety to keep the Loggers from getting a second.
PLU is no stranger to coming back from going a goal or two down this season, and cracks in the UPS defense were being exploited by the combination of first-year forward Eddie Na and junior forward Jordan Downing.
Bruised and battered by the UPS defense, some good work by junior forward Bryan Anderson helped turn the game for the Lutes, and his hard work was rewarded with the equalizing goal in the 55th minute.
Na cut inside from the right to hit a low shot that UPS goalkeeper Nathan King could only push into the feet of a wide open Anderson who couldn’t miss from six yards.
After the goal, the Lutes kept pushing, sensing they could sneak another goal.
It wasn’t to be though, and the Loggers scored what would be the game winning goal in the 66th minute.
“We just didn’t know how to finish the team off and get that last goal,” Aceves said.
Midfielder Sam Zisette drove into the heart of the PLU box where his shot deflected off the leg of a PLU defender and past a helpless Arguello.
UPS would hold on to the 2-1 score, but it ultimately stayed in third place after a Whitworth’s win sealed the NWC title.
With the loss, PLU finished its 2014 NWC season 7-7 and 10-10 overall, the first time since 2004 the team has lost 10 or more games.
“In terms of record, the season wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for,” Yorke said. “We have such a large amount of key returners coming back that I think we have a chance to be very good next year.”