PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing in the 2016 regular-season finale, T2 scored three first-half goals to earn a 3-2 victory over Arizona United SC in front of 3,602 fans at Merlo Field on Saturday night. With the win, T2 ended the season on a five-game winning streak, which is the longest in team history. Forward Augustine Williams recorded his third goal of the season, while midfielder Villyan Bijev recorded a brace and his USL-leading 10th assist of the season.
Despite the victory, T2 (12-14-4, 40pts) narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2016 USL Playoffs following Orange County Blues FC’s 4-0 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. T2 and Orange County finished the season tied on wins, but Orange County edged out Portland for eighth place as they advanced on the goal-differential tiebreaker.
After Arizona United (9-14-7, 34pts) took a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute, T2 leveled the score seven minutes later. From a counter-attacking play, Bijev played a ball in behind the Arizona defense that Williams latched and the 19-year-old struck his right-footed shot into the lower left corner of the net in the 27th minute.
T2 took a 2-1 lead in the 35th minute after Bijev dribbled through the United SC defense on the left edge of the penalty area and curled in his right-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net. Bijev recorded the game-winning goal, his team-leading eighth of the season, just before halftime. Midfielder Andre Lewis played a ball to Bijev, who let the ball run past him and arrowed a left-footed shot from just inside the 18-yard box that made its way into the lower left corner of the net in the 45th minute.
Arizona United cut into T2’s lead in the 72nd minute after forward Chris Cortez placed his free kick attempt past T2 goalkeeper Wade Hamilton, who finished the match with four saves.
Holding a 17-15 shot advantage, T2 created a number of scoring opportunities throughout the evening. Early on, Williams fired off a shot from inside the six-yard box that forced Arizona United goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski into a save in the fifth minute. T2 came close to scoring in the 29th minute when midfielder Neco Brett whipped in a cross inside the box that found Williams, whose header just went wide of the target. In the 57th minute, defender Andy Thoma’s cross picked out Bijev at the top of the 18-yard box. Bijev took a touch and his shot was parried away by Woszczynski for a T2 corner kick. One minute later, Brett cut inside from the left wing and fired a right-footed shot from the edge of the box that missed the target.
Postgame Quote Sheet
T2 head coach Andrew Gregor
On the team’s performance tonight…
“I thought it was an O.K. performance. It took us a little while to get into it. I think the nerves got to us at the beginning of the match. We found our rhythm later on played some good attacking football. We scored three very nice goals. I thought they did well in the first half. At the end of the day we got three points, but it wasn’t enough [to qualify for the playoffs] in the end.”
On the team ending the season on a team record five-game winning streak…
“I think they did a really good job to win five games in a row to end the season. I think you see what some of these guys are capable of doing. There were very good performances, not only from the team, but individuals at the end of the season. I think it’s important for them to understand confidence-wise what they’re capable of doing, but they also have to remember that this wasn’t there at the beginning of the year. They evolved and developed and they need to take that confidence and continue moving forward with it.”
On midfielder Villyan Bijev’s performance…
“Bijev found his comfort zone. He was a bit unlucky to begin the year as far as some opportunities that were missed. He was just unlucky on hitting the post or the goalie making an amazing save. It was good to see him come into form. He’s a good personality. He’s a good pro. He worked hard. He’s a good character guy that is good for this club. I was pleased that he got an award for continuing to dig as the season went on.”
T2 forward Augustine Williams
On the team’s 3-2 win…
“I’m really proud of the team. We came out to get the win today. We came out strong. I was happy we were able to get the win, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it [into the playoffs]. I’m really happy to be part of this program now, which has helped me a lot to improve in training as well as getting to know the guys on the team. We couldn’t make it into the playoffs, but I hope next year we can come back stronger and dominate.”
On the team closing out the season on a five-game winning streak…
“For us, it’s a huge improvement. When I first joined the team, we had lost a couple of games. We then got the motivation to make the playoffs. That kept us going. We wanted to go out there to do everything we can to win every game. I was happy that we had a great run.”
On his third goal of the season…
“I was happy I was able to score again. That’s always the mentality every time I come out here to help out the team to do whatever I can for us to get the result and the three points. I was happy I was able to get a goal, which was a huge part of the success we had today.”
T2 (12-14-4, 40pts) vs. Arizona United SC (9-14-7, 34pts)
Sept. 24, 2016 – Merlo Field (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
T2 3 0 3
Arizona United SC 1 1 2
AZ: Rooney, 21
POR: Williams (Bijev), 27
POR: Bijev, 35
POR: Bijev, 45
AZ: Cortez, 72
POR: Clarke (Caution), 19
AZ: Rooney (Caution), 66
AZ: Poltronieri (Caution), 78
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Hamilton, D Richards, D Clarke ©, D Morley, D Thoma, M Lewis, M Damraoui (Besler, 76), M Arboleda, M Bijev, M Brett, F Williams
Substitutes Not Used: GK Luthy, D Gallagher, D Farfan, M Casiple, F Polk, F Belmar
TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 4
AZ: GK Woszczynski, D Granger, D Ramage, D Poltronieri, D Kelly, M C. Silva (Tan, 46), M Rooney, M M. Silva, M C. Silva, M Gavin ©, M Cascio (Blackwood, 62), F Cortez
Substitutes Not Used: GK Stagmiller, D Ringhoff, M McCormick, M Bircham
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; SHOTS ON GOAL: 6; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 2
Referee: Chipalo Street
Assistant Referees: Kelsey Harmes, Seth Martin
4th Official: William Baldwin
Weather: Clear, 66 degrees