Notebook: U-23s players have sights set on NCAA postseason

U-23s-led teams in hunt for WCC, Pac-12, MVC, BIG EAST titles

PORTLAND, Ore. – As the 2012 NCAA soccer season winds down to its final moments, several Timbers U-23s players have their respective college team on the verge of the postseason and some are putting the final touches on successful campaigns.

It is a race in the West Coast Conference for the goal-scoring title, and it has come down to the final stretch between two Timbers U-23s players – Steven Evans and Erik Hurtado. Hurtado paces the WCC with 14 goals on the season and Evans is close on his heels at 13 goals. Evans has four games remaining on the season, while Hurtado has just three left. Keep an eye on this race over the final weeks.

Hurtado and Santa Clara University also are in the race for the WCC title, as the Broncos trail conference leaders San Diego by two points in the standings with three matches to play. Hurtado has been a significant part of the team’s recent success, winning eight of its last 10 matches. He scored seven goals during the month of October, capped by a hat trick on Senior Day on Oct. 28 at Buck Shaw Stadium. His three-goal effort snagged TopDrawerSoccer.com’s National Team of the Week honors.

Hurtado (Beaverton, Ore.) has shined in his senior season at Santa Clara, becoming one of the best offensive players in school history. He ranks No. 3 all-time in goals scored and his current career total of 32 goals is the most by a Bronco player since 1979.  

In his junior season at the University of Portland, Evans (Troutdale, Ore.) has continued to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. He recorded five goals and one assist during the month of October, scoring in back-to-back matches to end the month. Evans scored the opening goal in a 2-1 road win over Santa Clara in a nationally televised match on FOX Soccer on Oct. 26.

Finding his form over the past few weeks is Evans’ UP and Timbers U-23s teammate, Ricardo Carrillo. Along with Evans, Carrillo (Prineville, Ore.) also scored in consecutive matches to end October. His strike against Santa Clara on Oct. 26 was the golden goal in second overtime to seal the Pilots’ win over the Broncos. He was recently named the WCC Player of the Week.

Carrillo is now UP’s second-leading goal-scorer behind Evans with five goals. He is also tied for the team lead with four assists.

In the Pac-12, Timbers U-23s goalkeeper Spencer Richey (Seattle, Wash.) helps lead the No. 24-ranked University of Washington into the final weeks of the season in a battle with No. 7 UCLA for the conference championship. The Huskies went 5-1-2 during the month of October and a recent loss to UCLA on Oct. 29 ended an eight-game unbeaten streak. Despite suffering their first conference loss of the season to UCLA, the Huskies and Bruins are tied for first place in the Pac-12 and control their own destiny.

Richey, a junior, leads a UW backline that ranks first in the conference in fewest goals allowed (15), goals-against average (0.79) and shutouts (8). He’s played every minute of the 2012 season, compiling an 11-4-3 overall record (6-1-2 in Pac-12 play). Richey’s 59 saves on the season ranks third in the Pac-12.

Timbers U-23s players have a pair of Midwest schools with their sights set on the postseason. Defender Brock Granger and No. 14-ranked Louisville have clinched the BIG EAST Red Division, finishing with a 7-1-0 record in conference play; the team has a 12-4-1 record overall. He recently scored his first goal of the season – a game-winner – in a 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Oct. 27.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ribeiro and Eric Miller have helped the No. 16 Creighton Bluejays, winners of their last seven games, secure a first-round bye in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The team currently sits in first place in the conference standings with a 4-0-1 record and is 12-3-2 overall in 2012.

Both Ribeiro and Miller were recently recognized for their efforts this season. Ribeiro won his third MVC Defensive Player of the Week honors, while Miller earned 2012 Capital One Academic All-District VII First Team honors.

Timbers U-23s Notes:

  • Two Timbers U-23s players – Mark Sherrod and Reed Matte – will square off in a Conference USA showdown between Memphis and UAB in the NCAA Game of the Week on FOX Soccer on Nov. 2.
  • Sherrod, the Timbers U-23s leading scorer in 2012, has tallied nine goals for Memphis this season and has been nominated as one of C-USA’s All-American candidates.
  • Forward Emery Welshman, in his senior season at Oregon State University, has scored four goals in his last six games to bring his season goals total to 10. He is the first Beavers player to score double-digit goals in a season since current Timbers forward Danny Mwanga scored 14 goals in 2009.
  • Voting for the Senior CLASS award continues for defender Anthony Hobbs, a senior at Florida International University. Voting takes place online at www.seniorclassaward.com.
  • Midfielder Roberto Farfan (Portland, Ore.) is Oregon State’s assist leader with six on the season, which is tied for third-best in the Pac-12.
  • Goalkeeper Keegan Rogers (Troutdale, Ore.) has recorded 57 saves for Western Washington this season. The Vikings are unbeaten in their last five games (4-0-1) and look to close out the season on a high against Simon Fraser on Nov. 3.