Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lone tally gives Whitworth women win; men’s match with Puget Sound finishes scoreless

Only one goal separated the two schools in a doubleheader of tight-knit action - Photos: Gerald Barnhart
It was a difficult weekend task for the Whitworth Pirates with the opposition for both teams coming in with two combined losses between the four sides prior to their matches. In the end, the Pirates finished the weekend unbeaten as each side posted a win and a draw. On Sunday, the women took a 1-0 decision against the visiting Loggers while the men battled to a scoreless stalemate.

University of Puget Sound 0 :: 1 Whitworth University - WOMEN

In a close-fought contest that was played out primarily in the midfield, it was again Tiara Pajimola (Spokane, WA) providing the heroics yet again, scoring the game-winner in the second half.

With the visitors on the road for the second consecutive day and the Pirates having played a full 110 the day before, the first half played out in a much slower pace and looked more like a stroll in the park compared to the back-and-forth the day before.

“We affectionately call it the Whits,” said Puget Sound women’s head coach Randy Hanson. “It’s a difficult two-step for us just because of the drive. There’s a long drive to Whitman and then an almost equally long drive in between the schools. And then you play the next day so the turnaround’s always difficult, but you manage it the best you can.

“I thought the game was as advertised really. If you wanna look at the statistics we were slightly better on the day but I don’t know that we controlled the game. I think it was back and forth, but it’s about finishing the chances that you get. We had a few more and didn’t finish ours and they did finish theirs. It was a good competitive match, and at the top of the league we are looking forward to the next one.”

Katrin Grant, Whitworth
Things picked up a little 11 minutes into the second half, however, when Katrin Grant, who scored the day before, fed the ball from the far left touchline onto a streaking Pajimola, who drove diagonally into the box and put her shot past the keeper from about 14 yards for her sixth goal of the season.

The Shadle Park product has had a hand in a goal in five of the last six games in helping lead Whitworth to its unbeaten start in conference play.

“Kat and Paj combined really well up top to finish that - Kat’s composure; and then Pajimola again just being able to tuck it away. Kat has had a very good weekend, She’s always a very, very tough player and were glad when she put the ball in the back of the net as well.”

The best chance at an equalizer for the Loggers came in the 68th minute when a low cross into the box found Haley Rosenburg just right of the spot. She turned with the ball and fired toward the right post, requiring a nice diving save from Andrea Stump, who gets her sixth shutout in seven conference outings.

Defender Jamie Hegg, Whitworth
“What can we say about the back line, Andrea with all four backs they were just calm and composed, held tough,” said Hagerott.

The victory leaves Whitworth as the lone unbeaten in conference play with a record of 6-0-1 with Puget Sound remaining in second despite the loss at 4-1-1.

“We’ve won this thing a few times and we are hoping to again; we’re trying to do that, but it’s rare that that we’ve been undefeated,” said Hanson about the team’s first conference defeat. “There’s always been a loss along the way and there’s always been a tie along the way, or an upset somewhere else where you thought wouldn’t happen so it’s just part of the battle instead of the war. We’ll hopefully learn from it and come back and play a little better next time.”

The Pirates next travel to Linfield College (McMinnville, OR) for just one game next week while the Loggers host Lewis & Clark and travel to Pacific University.

“For us, (the season) is something that we just try to take it day by day. We’ve had a lot of injuries we’ve had to deal with - that we are still dealing with - and so for us it’s just taking game by game and playing to the best of our ability,” said Hagerott.

“It’s gonna be a tough game for us. We battled; we tied Linfield twice last year. This year, we are gonna go out and hopefully play the way we have been playing and see what comes out of it.”

Around the Conference: Pacific Lutheran played to another draw, finishing in a scoreless stalemate at Whitman. Linfield and Lewis & Clark also finished even at 1-1 while Willamette nabbed a 1-0 decision at George Fox.

University of Puget Sound 0 :: 0 Whitworth University - MEN

Showing signs of going all-out in their games the previous day, the Pirates and Loggers, who were contending with a long road trip and overtime Saturday, had few good opportunities in an even first half of a game that grew increasingly physical with some crunching tackles.

Reece Olney, Puget Sound
“This road trip is always tough – it’s 800 miles; the two games between Saturday and Sunday are 24 hours apart and a three-and-a-half hour bus ride apart so it’s a very demanding road trip,” said the Loggers’ men’s head coach. “But, if we had not of stubbed our toe yesterday, it would have been a very successful road trip. But that’s the difference between success and average or failure, just a goal here or goal there.

“Whitworth is a good team so a draw at their place keeps us in contention for a conference championship, so it was a good result today; yesterday not so good.”

In the second half the hosts began to take command of the match with more of the possession, but with two quality defenses on the field chances were at a premium. Puget Sound came into the weekend with only one goal allowed in its previous seven games, but after giving up a pair in a loss at Whitman Saturday, the Loggers looked resolute in not allowing another. Whitworth, meanwhile, had only allowed one goal in its eight previous games before giving up a pair in their 3-2 victory against visiting Pacific Lutheran.

“I just think it was two disciplined, very organized teams that play the game properly, therefore they are gonna limit their opponent – it’s not going to be a wide open game,” said Olney. “And the other factor is it is a Sunday game so it’s the second game in a row and both teams put a serious amount of effort into their Saturday match so that so slowed the game down a little bit too maybe.”

The Pirates would have two good chances in the second half, however. A ball in to Kekoa Mountcastle in the 63rd minute gave Whitworth the first opportunity. The senior striker struggled at first to get a shot off with suffocating pressure from his marker, but he recovered from a slight fall to turn and shoot from 12 yards, sending it narrowly wide of the left post.

With 90 seconds remaining in the game and overtime looming, Robby Ubben picked up the ball and fired from a tight angle at the right edge of the box, but the shot drifted just outside of the far post.

After a relatively uneventful first overtime period, the visitors nearly had the winner in the 104th minute on a tantalizing play in which a ball served in from the left corner to the near side of the six drew goalkeeper Kyle Nowak and the Loggers’ Ryan Rash to meet it. Nowak was unable to snare the ball cleanly, allowing it to fall to his feet, where Rash was unable to recover and put it into the open net before defender Andrew Flint came flying in from the back side to dribble the ball away from the line.

Kyle Nowak, Whitworth
With just under two minutes remaining again, the ball found its way to a Pirate in the box. This time it was Colin Shockman firing from about 13 yards out on the right side, forcing a nice save from Chris McDonald, who made three saves on the day to Nowak’s one.

“Yeah, we got the shutout. It was a battle,” said Whitworth head coach Sean Bushey after the match. “They are a well-coached team; they know what they want to do so we knew it was always going to be a tough one. We did well; our two center backs, goalkeeper were very good on the day so that helps us.

“We didn’t give anything dangerous away. We applied pressure, they applied pressure, but we didn’t give anything dangerous away. I thought we created a few dangerous opportunities; obviously didn’t capitalize, but this is conference play – makes it tough.”

Despite only picking up one point on the trip, Olney put the weekend behind him and is not looking too far into the future either as they travel next Friday to Pacific Lutheran, the other team that came into the weekend at Whitworth unbeaten.

“We are a one game at a time group. That’s what we said back in August when we started this journey and that’s been our philosophy. They are a resilient group. We were very disappointed about yesterday; we obviously had won seven in a row – there is some serious significance there,” he Olney said, noting several other outstanding streaks of positive results. We had a lot going on so to fall on our face yesterday and then bounce back with this type of effort and execution to keep a very talented team off the scoreboard and keep them kind of limited (was good).

“The ball found them in our box late in the second overtime so they got two good looks at it, but we felt like we contained them. It was a good day and we’ll just move forward – unfortunately there’s no rest in the Northwest Conference – with the game this weekend with the other very talented team in this conference, Pacific Lutheran. It will be a tough match.”

Before facing the two powers, PLU and UPS, again in two weeks in Tacoma, Whitworth plays host to Whitman next week at home.

“Only one game next week against Whitman, the travel partner and the rival,” said Bushey of what lies ahead. “It’s good, the Washington schools are the ones that are on top of this conference at the moment so all the games are hard. UPS was in overtime yesterday against Whitman, so it’s a battle.

“It’s always tough; they lost in overtime,” he said in reaction to Puget Sound’s result Saturday in Walla Walla. “Whitman’s good; they’ve just had an unfortunate run of results. They are a dangerous team so I can see how the game gets tight, and they have a player that can nip it at the end and cause problems.”

Around the Conference: Pacific Lutheran rebounded from the loss at Whitworth, picking up a 2-1 victory at Whitman. Meanwhile, George Fox snared a 1-0 win at Willamette and Linfield rolled over Pacific University to the tune of a 4-1 result.