Pilots Soccer Program Thriving

By: Andrew Regan

When it comes to school soccer programs, Portland University - a private catholic university found in Portland, Oregon - has one of the best. Founded in 1901, Portland University is the sister school to the better-known University of Notre Dame, and has been actively promoting its soccer program for 21 years.

In the time the soccer program has been in operation it has produced some notable players. One of the Alumni, 37-year-old Kasey Keller - the USA national team's all-time leader for the position of goalkeeper - is currently active within the English Premier League, playing for fashionable London club Fulham. Another former Pilot, 22-year-old Heath Pearce signed for German Bundesliga team Hansa Rostock before the start of the 2007 season; following in the footsteps of two other former Pilots Conor Casey and Steve Cherundolo who also played in Germany. Other players have made their mark in professional teams in the USA, Denmark and Greece.

But it's not just the Portland players who have made an impact; Clive Charles was appointed Pilots head coach in 1986, and after ten years of leading the team and earning the respect of the soccer world became the US Olympic team coach in 1996.

Prior to the start of the current season, the Pilots men's team was polled to finish tied-fourth in the season in the West Coast Conference in the 2007 WCC preseason coaches poll, and their performances during the season so far suggest that they will at least achieve that position.

There is also an active women's soccer program at Portland, which was established in 1989, when men's coach Clive Charles was appointed to run the women's team. In 1992 Charles pulled off a rare feat when he got both his men's and women's teams to the NCAA play-offs. His teams finished the season as number one ranked men's team and number three ranked women's team, helping to cement Charles reputation as a top-class coach. The women's team were winners of the NCAA Women's soccer championship in 2005 and are currently ranked third in the four major soccer polls; The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSSAA), Soccer America, Soccer Buzz and SoccerTimes all place the Pilots behind Santa Clara and Stanford.

If you are a soccer fan and you are tempted to come to watch either of the Pilots soccer teams in action, look to secure a room at a hotel in Portland well in advance as around game days they tend to get full of family, friends and fans!

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