Notebook: Several Timbers U-23s kick off NCAA season

Richards leads Washington to a No. 23 ranking

Brent Richards U-23s vs. Washington

Photo Credit: 
Miranda Chrislock

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the start of the NCAA soccer season upon us, players from the 2011 Portland Timbers U-23s are back at work with their respective college teams. While the season is still young, several Timbers U-23s players have their schools, and individual seasons, off to a great start.

Before a ball was kicked or a save made, preseason accolades from two different conferences were awarded to Timbers U-23s players. Key players for the University of Portland, midfielder Steven Evans and defender Ryan Kawulok joined Santa Clara striker Erik Hurtado on the West Coast Conference’s 2011 All-Preseason Team.

Just up I-5, forward Brent Richards has added to his collegiate honors already this season. In addition to being named a candidate for the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS award, Richards was tabbed as one of the of the top 100 seniors of 2011 by TopDrawerSoccer and a preseason All-American by College Soccer News entering his senior season at the University of Washington.

On the pitch, Washington is off to a hot start on the season, posting an unbeaten 2-0-1 record through its first three games. So is Richards. He scored his third goal of the season last weekend during the Nike Portland Invitational at the University of Portland, helping the Huskies take the invitational title. Earlier this week, Richards received his first Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week honors. Not to be out-done by his U-23s teammate, defender Dylan Tucker scored his first goal of the season for UW during the Nike Invitational as the Dawgs jump up to No. 23 in the national polls.

In the backyard of JELD-WEN Field at the University of Portland, Kawulok, a senior, looks to continue his ironman streak this weekend as the Pilots head to the Midwest for the NIU Invitational. He’s started 65 consecutive games for the Pilots, featuring in every match of his collegiate career.

Already with a goal to his credit this season for UP, catch up with Timbers U-23s alumni Michael Nielsen, who was a part of that historic 2010 PDL championship side.

In his second season at Oregon State, Timbers U-23s midfielder Roberto Farfan is one of the Beavers’ top returning offensive threats and already has an assist to his credit in 2011. He has started all three of OSU’s first matches, which included a two-game road swing through ACC powers North Carolina and Wake Forest. Oregon State earned their first point of the season in a scoreless draw against Wake Forest, receiving seven saves from Timbers U-23s alumni Steve Spangler.

In the Sunshine State of California, Hurtado has his Santa Clara Broncos on the right start, with a win and a draw in their opening three matches of the year. He netted his first goal of the season in a 2-2 draw with No. 6-ranked UCLA. SCU, ranked No. 8 in the latest NSCAA Far West Regional poll, faces two non-conference opponents this weekend at Buck Shaw Stadium as they wrap up a season-opening, five-game homestand.

It’s been a rough start to the season for the Stanford Cardinal, losing three straight to open the campaign. U-23s goalkeeper Jason Dodson and forward Eric Anderson both featured in a tough two-game road trip on the East Coast in which Stanford faced No. 4-ranked Maryland and Georgetown. Stanford gets its first taste of home this weekend in the Cal Legacy Classic.

One of the Timbers U-23s’ leading scorers in 2011, forward Miles Byass continues his scoring form as he enters his sophomore season San Diego State, totaling a goal and two assists in the team’s first three matches. With a goal and an assist in the Aztec’s season-opening win over Canisius, Byass took home Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week honors.

The Timbers U-23s featured two high-school aged players last season in midfielder Nick Palodichuk and goalkeeper Keegan Rogers. Both are getting their first tastes of the collegiate ranks.

Rogers made his collegiate debut last weekend for Western Washington University, coming on to play 14 minutes in a 5-2 stomping of Dominican down in San Rafael, Calif. Part of a young ‘keeper group, Rogers looks to challenge for playing time this season for the Vikings, who were picked to finish third in their conference this season.

Palodichuk was one of just eight freshman tabbed by Soccer America as a Freshman of Influence as he enters his first season at Duke University. And he’s proven to be a key part of the Blue Devils team already this season, starting each of the first four games and ranking second on the team in minutes played at 359. Palodichuk scored his first collegiate goal in a 3-2 overtime loss to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 2, finding the net just 48 seconds into the game.

Staying on the East Coast, Timbers U-23s defender Andy Hackbarth recently kicked off his senior season at Yale University. He figures to be a key part of the Bull Dog’s run in the Ivy League when he can get healthy.

With Timbers U-23s players on collegiate rosters across the country, here is an upcoming schedule of local games featuring U-23s players pitted against one another on their collegiate teams:

Sept. 21 – Washington vs. Portland in Seattle, Wash.; 7 p.m. (PT)
Sept. 23 – Portland vs. UAB in Seattle, Wash.; 4:30 p.m. (PT)
Sept. 30 – Oregon State vs. Washington in Corvallis, Ore.; 7 p.m. (PT)