SOCCER: Pacific uses new Lincoln Park soccer facility to lure Portland Timbers to town

Five months after its grand opening, Lincoln Park Stadium is still turning heads.

After earning rave reviews in its first season as the home for Pacific University's soccer and lacrosse programs, the state-of-the-art facility - built in a joint venture between Pacific and the city of Forest Grove - has now caught the attention of the Portland Timbers, a USL First Division soccer club based in Portland. The Timbers announced late last month that they will play an exhibition match against Gonzaga University at Lincoln Park Stadium on Sunday, March 30 at 2 p.m.

'It is extremely exciting to have the opportunity to host the Portland Timbers at Lincoln Park Stadium,' said Pacific Director of Athletics Ken Schumann. 'This event is a great draw for both Pacific and the city of Forest Grove and is indicative of the type of first-class event we hope to draw to the facility over the years.'

Gavin Wilkenson, general manager and head coach of the Timbers, toured the facility on Sunday and came away impressed. Wilkenson indicated that the Timbers would like to make the exhibition in Forest Grove an annual event, perhaps even drawing bigger opponents like Major League Soccer's expansion franchise from Seattle, which will begin play in 2009.

'Pacific and the city have put effort into creating a high-quality soccer venue, and we look forward to getting out into the community and showcasing our team as we prepare for the upcoming season,' Wilkenson said.

The Timbers will open the regular season on April 17 when they host Puerto Rico at PGE Park in Portland. The match at Lincoln Park will be an exhibition tune-up for a Timbers team that finished second in the USL First Division last season with a 14-5-9 record and advanced to the league playoff semifinals before being ousted by Atlanta on penalty kicks.

Recent connections between the Timbers and Pacific include coaches Jim Brazeau and Jim Rilatt. Brazeau, who wrapped his eighth season as head coach of the Pacific men's soccer team last fall, will enter his seventh season as the Timbers goalkeeping coach in 2008. Brazeau was named Northwest Conference Coach of the Year in 2006.

Rilatt, meanwhile, will begin his second season as an assistant coach for both the Boxers and Timbers in 2008.

'This is just the type of event that we envisioned Lincoln Park would attract and I am excited that we have been able to do this so soon after the facility is opened,' Schumann said. 'Another great and highly visible event for Pacific, the Forest Grove community and the athletic program.'

Schumann also said that Pacific will invite the FC Santos Soccer Club to play an exhibition match at noon prior to the Timbers' exhibition.

Tickets for the pre-season event will cost $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 17 and under. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit youth soccer programs in the Forest Grove area.

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