PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Pilots entered the NCAA Tournament unseeded, meaning they did not get a bye to the second round.
Ever since then, they’ve been carrying a chip on their shoulder and have rattled off three straight wins to get to the Elite Eight. With a win on Saturday against Pitt, they would advance to collegiate soccer’s pinnacle—The College Cup.
“People don’t see us, little Portland, as a major powerhouse or anything like that, but I think we are, and we’re showing the nation that,” said defender Delentz Pierre.
“It’s motivating us a bit more because I don’t think a lot of people have faith or trust in us, but we definitely have it in ourselves,” said goalie George Tasouris.
So, what does it feel like proving people wrong?
“It feels good,” said George with a big smile.
“I don’t think it’s an accident that we’re here. We’ve been top five in the country in goals per game, and now in the tournament, we’ve been one of the better defensive teams in the country,” said Portland head coach Nick Carlin-Voigt. “If you can put those two stats together, I think it gives you a chance to continue to advance in the tournament.”
Another feather in the Portland Pilots cap; they are the only team from the west coast still in the tournament.
“That’s great to be the last west coast team standing, but the reality is we want to be the last team standing in the country, and that’s the goal—to put a star on our jersey,” said Carlin-Voigt.
No matter what happens, this team’s run has been special.
When asked what word he would use to describe it, Delentz Pierre gave an insightful answer.
“The word I would choose would be ‘earned’,” said the defender. “We really put an emphasis on earned, not given. Everyone’s thinking, ‘Hey, we have an easy bracket or an easy conference,’ but that’s not the case. We’re earning every single game we play, every single tackle we win, and every single result.”
As for the team’s mentality heading forward, Goalie George Tasouris summed it up well.
“Respect all, fear none,” he said.
The Portland Pilots play Pittsburg on Saturday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.