Sunday, September 16, 2012

Whitworth sinks visitors Lewis & Clark, Linfield in pair of 2-0 wins

Amy Sterk and Will Wren dominated the day for Whitworth in doubleheader | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The Pirates picked up where they left off at home last weekend at home. The two sides dominated from start to finish to post a pair of 2-0 shutout victories with the ladies downing the Lewis & Clark Pioneers and the men blanking the Linfield Wildcats. Amy Sterk and Will Wren, who was about to lose his freedom to come forward from his left back position, led the way with key performances in the two wins.

The ladies came off a near-upset of a ranked opponent last week to get a win in their conference opener on the road Wednesday, 1-0 at Whitman, and the men were following up their 1-0 victory over seventh-ranked Wheaton.

Lewis & Clark (Portland) 0 :: 2 Whitworth University – Women

It was the Amy Sterk (Pullman, WA) show as she led the Pirates in a dominating performance against the visiting Pioneers. The striker scored the opening goal and set up the second in the first half in addition to sending another shot off the post as Whitworth cruised to its eighth consecutive victory against Lewis & Clark dating back to 2008.

Sterk, who scored the lone goal in Wednesday’s conference-opening 1-0 victory at Whitman, created her opening goal Saturday 11 minutes into the match when she fired a shot on goal that was nicely saved out for a corner. On the ensuing restart the corner from Carly Schilperoort found Sterk’s head at the corner of the six off the near post for the lead 12 minutes in.

“Amy Sterk is an animal in the air,” said Whitworth head coach Jael Hagerott with a big smile. “She’s strong on the ball so for us as much as we can find her, particularly on set pieces, and then to her feet, she does good things with the ball.”

Sterk nearly doubled the lead in the 33rd minute when she took the ball about 35 yards out and drove past two defenders before unleashing a shot just of the Geena Fong’s reach from just inside the box only to see it smack off the bottom of the left upright.

Pajimola leads team with three goals
The striker, who often plays in the back as well, was the architect of the second goal in the 38th minute collecting the ball at midfield and turning past a defender before going on a lengthy 25 yard run before dishing it off to Tiara Pajimola (Spokane, WA) who missed the upper corner from the right side at the 30-minute mark, to her right in the two-on-one. Pajimola, who set up Wednesday’s winner, calmly put it past Fong from about 16 yards to double the lead.

“Paj: speed. She can get behind people and it’s a good combination with the two,” was all the coach needed to say about her leading goal scorer, who now has three on the year. 

Fong kept Sterk from getting a second just before the break when a free kick was sent in from the right with many of the players casually awaiting its entry and expected Pioneers clearance to run off the final seconds. Instead, the ball was missed by the defenders, surprising Whitworth’s Hannah Bokma (Spokane, WA), who was unable to finish, but the ball went to Sterk right beside her only to see her poke of the ball dropped on by the keeper to deny the chance.

“We talked about a few things – one, when we played Whitman down there we always conceded the first line to the ball so our message to the girls was ‘you do not concede the first line and you’re the first to the ball on everything’ and they did it,” Hagerott said about the way the team controlled the contest. 

Ten minutes into the second half, the visitors got the better of only two good opportunities on the day. Taylor Hudson received the ball in the box and turned wide, going around Schilperoort before firing from a touch angle and connecting with the crossbar. The rebound dropped teasingly in front of the goal, but would be cleared away.

Two minutes later Sterk nearly made them pay for the miss when she found an open Pajimola about 25 yards out. Pajimola drove into the box where Fong came out and stuffed the shot from close range. Another two minutes passed before Pajimola again almost got her second when a ball popped over by Kristin Wucherer was looped over the charging keeper with a header at the edge of the area only to see it go wide of the left post.

Linfield College 0 :: 2 #16 Whitworth University – Men

Though the only two goals came on set pieces finished by left back Will Wren (Pullman, WA), the victory was about as dominant of a performance as a team can manage in a victory as the Pirates allowed just two shots the entire game with goalkeeper Kyle Nowak not needing to make a single save.

“We started the game well with the passing; it’s probably some of the best passing that we have had – movement,” said Whitworth head coach Sean Bushey. “We created opportunities so it was good to get goals off of free kicks, but we would have liked to score off the run of play too. But overall, it was a good performance.”

Wren (L) celebrates his second strike
It took only 26 minutes for the junior left back to register his first career goals. The first came on the quarter-hour mark on a free kick even with the 18 on the far left flank. Mike Chavez (Kennewick, WA), who was dangerous on the ball in the early going, served it into the near side of the box where Wren nodded it in from about 15 yards out.

Eleven minutes later a corner kick from Anders Nostdahl (Sandpoint, ID) sent to the far side of the area was headed past Scott Goodman to double the advantage.

“It was lucky that he scored because he was about to find himself to the back if he wasn’t going to score here soon because he’s a big man,” said Bushey of Wren getting his first goals. “But he did well; got himself in good positions with some very good services so great finishes by him. He had a good game because he attacked out of the back, and it was fun to watch.”

The goal came immediately after Linfield’s only creative opportunity to score aside from a few long-range efforts. Domenico Del Prete, who was a lonely figure up top most of the contest, took the ball away from Andrew Flint in the back and proceeded to dish it off to Jake Baker as the two pressed toward goal in a two-on-one. Flint made a run around Baker as he crossed into the box before releasing it back to Flint on the right side of the area where a Whitworth defender finally dove in to block his shot from 13 yards out and clear it away.

The Pirates continued to dominate the half with several more chances and the second half continued much the same way, though the period began to be focused on whether or not Wren could complete a hat-trick. The defender cheated forward quite often and spent a good portion of the half in the offensive third with the Pirates occasionally playing with just two in the back at times with things well in their control, something coach Bushey had second thoughts about after the match.

“At times, and at some times it was like, uh maybe we shouldn’t be doing that. But, we held the ball fairly well; Sam Engle had a very good game up front so that allowed us to come forward and attack, and get the backs forward. It was enjoyable to watch, overall.”

Wren had two chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half for the hat-trick, driving up the left side in the ninth minute and sending a shot from the edge of the area that was put out for a corner at the near post. Six minutes later he fired another attempt from eight yards that was stopped.

His final chance would prove to be in the 79th minute when he got the ball in the box and dribbled a little to find space before having a defender block his 15-yard effort.

As Wren searched for his third, Karl Muelheims (Spokane, WA) was also beginning to play a major role in the attack, picking things up six minutes before the break when he ran the ball down in the right corner with plenty of space. He whipped in a low cross two yards in front of the six that Sam Engle was unable to get a foot on cleanly.

With 10 seconds left before intermission he nearly scored himself, taking the ball forward from the left quickly and slipping it by the charging keeper only to see it go wide.

In the 74th minute crossed the ball in from the left side to Robby Ubben at the near post, but the redirection was knocked out for a corner. Nine minutes later the midfielder was knocked out of the match with a head injury suffered playing defensively in the box.

“Unfortunately, he did,” Bushey said, looking around to see if Muelheims was up and about around the field after the game. “He’s a powerful kid, makes things happen. Hopefully he’s alright for tomorrow.”

In addition to the shutout being the fourth in five games for the Pirates, who have allowed just one goal this season, the victory continues an even more dominant and amazing run against Linfield. Saturday’s win extended the unbeaten streak against the Wildcats to 18 games (15-0-3) dating back to their last loss October 11, 2003. It is the 12th consecutive victory, a span in which they have only allowed four goals.