Lane United’s Coffey and Portland Pilots Rolling Down Stretch
By Keeler McJunkin
Lane United midfielder Matt Coffey and the University of Portland are on a roll as the college season is hitting the stretch run. The Pilots have won five straight and are sitting atop the West Coast Conference at 3-0 with five games remaining on the schedule.
Coffey, a redshirt junior, scored his second goal of the season last week in a wild 3-2 victory over San Francisco, putting a corner from teammate Eddie Sanchez into the back of the net for the Pilots second goal.
“Eddie played a nice ball to the near post and I got a little flick on it,” Coffey said. “It hit off the goalkeeper and slipped in, but it was awesome. I always love getting on the score sheet.”
A regular in the starting lineup, Coffey was on the field from the beginning for 12 of Portland’s 13 games and has been a big part of the Pilots resurgence on the pitch after finishing seventh out of eight teams in conference a year ago.
The 3-0 record in conference play is Portland’s best start since 2002. Coffey said the Pilots looked at the beginning of league play as a second season and really took it as a fresh start and clean slate.
“We kind of hit our stride at the right moment,” Coffey said. “When you can keep your confidence from previous games and keep it rolling it’s huge. We have a lot of confidence in our group and that’s been great.”
Throughout the season Coffey has been working on improving the little things in his game while also keeping a good mindset as the season moves along. Consistency and taking each day as they come has been at the forefront of his work during the college season.
“I try to get a little bit better, take little steps forward every day and hopefully by the end of the year I’m playing my best,” Coffey said. “If you just work hard in training every day the games take care of themselves.”
The summer season with Lane United has had a big impact on allowing Coffey to keep that consistency going from the end of the school year through the summer, without allowing rust to set in on the field.
Coffey, whose summer season was cut short due to summer school obligations, pointed to the quality of players Lane United brings in and the ability of the coaching staff to bring out the best in those players as reasons why training with his Lane teammates is so helpful.
“At Lane United it’s so competitive and the training environment is so great you keep that match sharpness and fitness,” Coffey said. “If you don’t play in any competitive games for even a couple weeks or months it’s tough to get it back.”
Lane United head coach John Galas isn’t surprised to see the level of success Coffey and his University of Portland teammates are having on the field this season. Galas saw the process and demeanor that he brings to the field over the summer.
“Matt Coffey is a consummate team player who we asked to play a variety of positions in 2016 and he accepted each opportunity with tremendous professionalism,” Galas said. “He’s a wonderful player and an even better person. We’re delighted he’s having such an impactful season at UP this year.”
The Pilots came in just out of the Top 25 at No. 27 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll this week and have a bye before facing Loyola Marymount and San Diego in Portland next Friday and Sunday.
Coffey said while the recognition is nice, he and his teammates are trying not to put too much stock into it and play one game at a time.
“We’re not really paying too much attention to rankings and the news right now,” Coffey said. “Focusing on our next opponent is important and if we do that everything else will fall into place.”