Heptner's penalty lifts Aggies past Portland

Junior Connor Willis-Hong's second half run into the box drew a foul and set up the game-winning goal from the penalty spot on Sunday afternoon against Portland. (Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Sept. 18, 2016

Box Score
WATCH: Willis-Hong's run, Heptner's PK (Courtesy Big West TV)

DAVIS, Calif. -- Sophomore Kristian Heptner buried a penalty kick to the right side in the 65th minute for the game's lone goal, and the UC Davis men's soccer team posted its second-straight victory, shutting out visiting Portland, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at the Aggie Soccer Field.

The Aggies improved to 3-2-2 overall on the season, defeating the Pilots for the first time in four meetings between the two programs. Portland, which entered the week unbeaten in its last five matches before falling at Sacramento State with 45 seconds remaining in regulation last Thursday, fell to 4-3-1 overall on the season.

Heptner's goal followed a brilliant run by junior Connor Willis-Hong to set up the penalty kick. After a Pilots corner, sophomore Matt Baringer started the sequence with a pass that sent Willis-Hong down the left side where he gathered it and cut into the box before being taken down from behind by a Pilot defender. That sent Heptner to the spot, where he calmly deposited the ball to the right side past goalkeeper Paul Christensen for the 1-0 lead.

That was enough for UC Davis, which held Portland to just three shots in the second half, and senior goalkeeper Armando Quezada finished with three saves as the Aggies posted their fourth shutout of the year. For Quezada, it was also the 11th shutout of his career, moving him into a tie with Ryan McCowan (2007-10) for fifth place on the all-time list.

Portland had the first opportunity just seven minutes into the match as Rey Ortiz rang a curling free kick off the left post, and Kris Reaves forced Quezada into a save just before the end of the half as both teams went into the break scoreless.

Adjustments at halftime began to pay off for the Aggies, who took three of the first four shots of the second period, including a pair of chances early that tested Christensen. Junior Lizandro Torres had a right-footed shot that was headed on by Heptner stopped at the right post, while sophomore Brian Quintero had his attempt from the top of the 18 swallowed up to keep the match scoreless.

Quezada then smothered a shot by the Pilots' Benji Michel on a 50/50 ball to the right side of the box, sliding to make the stop on the Portland attacker's shot to snuff out a scoring opportunity.

Junior Noah Wilson, who had a goal and an assist in the win over CSU Bakersfield last Thursday, then had a bending free kick cleared away from danger in the 66th minute that was destined for the right side and was later denied by Christensen in the 80th minute on a point-blank save after a turnover.

Junior Miguel Acevedo also just missed in the 76th minute as a nifty back heel by Wilson caught teammate Evan Barrett on the run down the right side and his centering pass found Acevedo at the top of the box before is sailed too far left.

Heptner finished with three shots on the day as UC Davis finished with a 12-7 advantage in the category for the match.

The Aggies return to the field next week, co-hosting the biennial "Copa de Causeway" with Sacramento State. UC Davis takes on Saint Mary's on Thursday (Sept. 22) at 4 p.m., before welcoming Utah Valley to Aggie Soccer Field on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 3 p.m.