Timbers U-23s Notebook: Players continue to shine in college ranks

Byass, Hurtado and others having impact this fall

Timbers U-23s forward Miles Byass vs. Tacoma

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Miranda Chrislock

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Fall season has settled in over the Rose City, but as the weather starts to cool, three Portland Timbers U-23s players have their college teams on red-hot stretches into the month of October. Not to mention, a string of recent impressive performances by one Timbers U-23s player, earning him national player of the week recognition.

Coming off a solid season for the Timbers U-23s, forward Miles Byass’ hot start to the NCAA season has ignited his teammates at San Diego State University. Beginning Sept. 9, the Aztecs rattled off a eight-match unbeaten run, which included seven wins, moving to the top of the PAC-12 standings before losing this weekend 3-2 to his fellow U-23s teammate Brent Richards' University of Washington. San Diego State has landed on several national polls, including at No. 18 by Soccer America.

Byass, who has played in all 11 games this season, ranks second among Aztecs players in scoring with three goals and four assists. During the team’s unbeaten run, Byass netted the game-winning goal in overtime of a 2-1 road victory over Oral Roberts on Sept. 16. He returns to the Northwest this weekend as SDSU visits Oregon State on Saturday.

Beaverton native Erik Hurtado helped Santa Clara University to a recent seven-match unbeaten streak, which came to a close in a loss to rival University of San Francisco last week. Leading the team in scoring with five goals and four assists, Hurtado has the Broncos near the top of the West Coast Conference standings at 6-3-3 and pacing the conference in goals (17).

Hurtado, a junior, was named the WCC Player of the Month for September. Through Sept. 30, Hurtado totaled 40 shots, 12 points, four goals and four assists, which were all league-bests. He also collected back-to-back WCC Player of the Week awards last month.

On Sept. 16, Hurtado logged a goal and an assist to lead Santa Clara to a feat the team had not accomplished since 1980 – a road win in Berkeley.

A eight-game unbeaten streak isn’t bad either, especially in the ACC, and that’s what midfielder Nick Palodichuk has helped Duke University to in the past month. Palodichuk, a freshman, has been on a tear this season, notching six goals and three assists in 12 games (all starts) for the Blue Devils. His goals total not only leads all freshmen in the ACC, but has him tied for first in the nation among freshmen in goals.

Recently during Duke’s run, Palodichuk scored in a 2-2 draw against No. 5 North Carolina and recorded a brace in 4-1 win over Presbyterian (highlights). On Oct. 3, he was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com Men's College Soccer Team of the Week after registering three goals in a 1-0-1 week for the Blue Devils.

After missing the first five matches of the NCAA season, it has not taken long for midfielder Steven Evans to find his form for the University of Portland. He made his season debut on Sept. 21 and netted the game-winning goal with just 56 seconds remaining to give the Pilots a 1-0 road win over the Washington Huskies. He recently talked to PortlandPilots.com about his return (video) to the field.

Evans recorded three goals and two assists in his first three matches of the season, leading Portland to three consecutive wins. He nabbed Offensive MVP honors at the Husky Fever Classic and was then named WCC Player of the Week on Sept. 26 – giving the Timbers U-23s three straight WCC Player of the Week selections in September. Evans’ recent performances landed him national recognition, earning Player of the Week honors for the NSCAA as well as a spot on the College Soccer News Team of the Week.

The Pilots, which feature several players with ties to the Timbers U-23s, were featured on national television on Friday, Oct. 7 in a 1-0 loss to San Diego on FOX Soccer.

The University of Washington shot out of the gates this season, earning a national ranking. While the Huskies have cooled off somewhat, forward Brent Richards has continued his solid senior season. With seven goals and one assist through eleven games in 2011, Richards is listed at No. 29 among TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Top 100 Upperclassmen across the nation.

In September, Richards netted the game-winner for UW in a road win over Tulsa (Sept. 16), which at the time, kept the Huskies unbeaten on the season. He also logged a brace, scoring both goals just three minutes apart, in a 4-0 rout of Houston during the Husky Fever Classic and talked about that win after the match (video).

Richards, who has led the Huskies in scoring in each of his first three collegiate seasons, paces the PAC-12 in shots (52) and game-winning goals (3) and ranks second in points (13) and goals (6). In fact, Richards and Timbers U-23s teammate Miles Byass rank first and second, respectively, in the PAC-12 in shots this season. Byass is also tied for third in the conference with four assists.

At the beginning of the season, Western Washington University head coach Travis Connell said Timbers U-23s goalkeeper Keegan Rogers would challenge for playing time this season. Rogers, a freshman, has made the most of his opportunities thus far and has taken over as the Vikings’ first-choice goalkeeper.

Rogers made his first collegiate start Sept. 24, logging five saves, in a 2-1 win at Montana State University Billings. Overall, he has a record of 3-1-1 in six games this season, posting an impressive 0.92 goals-against average. Rogers’ goals-against average is second-best in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and he also ranks second in the conference in save percentage (.846), with 22 saves and has conceded just four goals.

A pair of Timbers U-23s players tallied their first goals of the season recently. Midfielder Roberto Farfan knocked in Oregon State University’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss on Sept. 24. Farfan currently ranks third on the team in points (4), with a goal and two assists. Defender/midfielder Dylan Tucker scored in a losing effort for the University of Washington, a 2-1 defeat to Oregon State, on Sept. 30.