Timbers U-23s rally for 2-2 draw in PDL debut

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Midfielder Jarad vanSchaik scored a goal and an assist to help the Portland Timbers U-23s kick off their inaugural season with a 2-2 draw against the Victoria Highlanders at the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center Saturday.

The Timbers U-23s rallied from behind on two occasions receiving goals from vanSchaik in the first half and then other from defender Logan Emory late in the match to level the score and pick up the team’s first point of the season.

Featuring 14 players in their 2009 PDL debut, the Timbers U-23s (0-0-1, 1pt) out-shot the Highlanders 15-9, and used four saves from goalkeeper Austin Guerrero to keep the match within reach throughout the night.

Midfielders Cole McFarlane and Nic Reyes each scored for the Highlanders (1-0-2, 5pts), who extended their unbeaten run to start the season to three games.

Victoria pulled ahead in the 17th minute, on a strike by Reyes. The play began when midfielder Jason Devonish received the ball inside the 18-yard box from McFarlane and hit a low driven shot. The shot was deflected by a Timbers U-23s defender which caused Guerrero to dive the opposite way. Reyes was in position to get the final touch and secure the one-goal advantage.

The Timbers U-23s answered back in the 34th minute, after vanSchaik was fouled just outside the top box. Fellow midfielder Shergill Avneet and vanSchaik positioned themselves on the ball for the free kick. Avneet then tapped the ball to vanSchaik who then fired a low shot into bottom right corner of the goal. With the strike, vanSchaik recorded the Timbers U-23s’ first goal in team history.

The Highlanders’ second goal came early in the second half at the 50th minute mark. McFarlane brought the ball down the left side of the field and worked his way between multiple Timbers U-23s defenders to set up his shot from inside the box. He hit a low, right-footed shot past a diving Guerrero inside the left post to give Victoria a 2-1 lead.

Down by a goal, the Timbers U-23s pulled even in the 85th minute on a header by Emory. Following a hard-earned corner by defender Sterling Flunder, vanSchaik stepped up to take the kick and sent a driven ball across the goal that found Emory on the back post for the equalizer.

Led by defender Kipp Erskine, the Timbers U-23s backline held the Highlanders to three shots in the second half and limited the visiting side’s time in the attacking third.

The Timbers U-23s continue their home stretch as they play back-to-back matches at PGE Park on May 15 against the Spokane Spiders and May 16 versus the Yakima Reds. Kickoff for both matches is set for 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and available at the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Notes: Both Timbers U-23s goals came off of set pieces … 502 fans were on hand for the Timbers U-23s’ first home game in team history … The Timbers U-23s line up featured four current University of Portland players – Guerrero, vanSchaik, Emory and Frankie Lopez … Nine different Timbers U-23s players recorded shots against Victoria … Midfielder Steven Evans, who entered the match as a second-half sub, is a junior at Central Catholic High School.

POR: GK Guerrero, D Brown, D Emory, D Ryan (Flunder, 45), D Harms (Erskine, 55), M Kwesele, M Van Houten, M vanSchaik, M Shergill (Richards, 57), F Youngblood (Evans, 72), F Lopez

VIC: GK Lindley, D Veenhof, D Hunter, D Loreth, D Diaz, M Mc Farlane (Ravenhill, 65), M Reyes, M Devonish (Merriman, 81), M Sanford (Dixon, 75), F Scott (Romeo, 86), F Pele