Saturday, October 20, 2012

Whitworth Pirates sweep Pacific-U in doubleheader, stay in title hunts

Bokma tackled after winner; French lifted in celebration of goal | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The Whitworth women (8-1-2) posted another dramatic one-goal decision, topping the visiting Pacific University Boxers on a Hannah Bokma header in overtime while the men (11-0-3) got off to a quick start and held on for a 3-1 victory on a cold and blustery afternoon Saturday with goals from three different players.

The ladies remain part of a trio with Linfield and the University of Puget Sound that have only one loss in conference play heading into the final few games of the season. The men remain alone in first with Pacific Lutheran lurking with striking distance in second.

Pacific University 0 :: OT :: 1 Whitworth University – WOMEN

Tiara Pajimola, Whitworth
It looked like the game was destined to be decided yet again by Tiara Pajimola (Spokena, WA) Saturday as the freshman striker had three quality chances in the opening 13 minutes of play before Pacific clamped down on her runs.

Eight minutes in Pajimola had an excellent breakaway opportunity only to send the shot over the bar. A minute later delivered a teasing low cross through the six that went unfinished with no one at the far post. She capped the series off with a shot from about 25 yards out toward the far post only to see the keeper drop on it.

The visiting Boxers began to find some of the possession midway through the half and created a pair of good chances before the break. In the 19th minute a drive into the box was broken up, but the ball fell to McKenna Davidson , who took a touch and fired, forcing a nice save from Andrea Stump.

With six minutes left in the half, Emily Tuffey slipped past Jamie Hegg on the left side and fired from the top of the box. The initial effort was stopped, but the rebound came back to her and Davidson, whose second-chance effort flew wide under recovering pressure from the defense.

“We have a great respect from them as a team,” said Whitworth head coach Jael Hagerott. “I would say for us, in terms of our goals, we worked the ball around the field really well today. We did create a lot of scoring opportunities – their keeper was huge for them. And so after the ball keeps not going in, then all of a sudden it becomes, I think, a mental battle as well.”

Though possession continued to be fairly balanced in the second half, the Pirates continued to find the better opportunities, including two early on.

Five minutes in a long high ball nodded off the bounce past the defenders by Pajimola allowed her to split the two backs 35 yards out and drive toward goal only to have the charging keeper Brittany Hartman make an great close-range save just to the left of the penalty spot.

In the 56th minute a turnover just outside the box allowed Bokma (Spokane, WA) to send a cross into the six where Pajimola was able to get her head on it only for it to be easily caught by the keeper.

The final 10 minutes of the half featured a few more tantalizing moments for the Pirates, but the hosts would have to work through another seven minutes of overtime before they found the winner.

Hannah Bokma, Whitworth
A second chance on a corner was put into the six by Carly Schilperoort. Bokma rose to meet it with a header that went over the already descending netminder. It was the second consecutive winner for Bokma, who provided the lone strike in the 77th minute last week at Pacific Lutheran.

“Hannah started the season very well and then got a little complacent. We said ‘hey, she has the capacity to be so, so good, and she’s turned it back on again and we’ve benefited from it.”

The Whitworth defense came up big yet again in the shutout with Stump need to making only two saves on five shots. In addition to the usual strong performance from centerback Jamie Hegg, the Pirates were aided by Courtney Larson, who fought through injury, particularly in the second half, to get the clean sheet.

“She actually pulled a muscle in her back… taking a mid-term this week, as funny as that sounds. It was a long mid-term apparently,” Hagerott joked. “Thankfully for us, she was able to tough it out and work through it.”

The full points was critical in the race for the conference title as Puget Sound (8-1-1) and Linfield (8-1-2) were also 1-0 winners on the day.

“Every game that we play matters, in a sense. It’s between us, UPS and Linfield. We have tough games coming up and hopefully we can just continue to put our game out on the field,” said Hagerott, who will close out the season with Linfield at home in two weeks. 

Pacific University 1 :: 3 Whitworth University – MEN

From the opening whistle, the game was controlled entirely by Whitworth. The first strike came 15 minutes into the contest when a shot from Andrew French from 25 yards rang off the right post, but fell to Robby Ubben for the putaway.

Andrew French
Fifteen minutes later French would find the back of the net himself, finishing off a cross from Sam Engle to double the lead.

French nearly had his second with 40 seconds left in the half when his shot from eight yards out on the right side beat the advancing keeper only to be cleared away by a defender coming in from the back side.

The Pirates, though, wasted little time in the second half squashing any hopes of a Boxer rally. A counter in the 54th minute up the left side that was quickly switched to the right led to Kekoa Mountcastle driving into the box where his opportunity was disrupted. The ball, however, came to Karl Muelheims (Spokane, WA), who buries it into the open net from close range.

Whitworth nearly added another in the 61st when Spencer Wolfe unleashed a curling shot from about 30 yards that slid just wide of the right post.

The visitors only had three real opportunities in the match. The first came in the first two minutes when a ball was sent through the six and the second chance came with six minutes left before the break when a second-chance effort on a corner by Alex Arrington from the left side narrowly missed the right post.

A corner with three minutes left on the clock, however, spoiled the shutout and ended the Pirates’ four-game shutout streak. The restart from Garrick Knowles eluded reserve keeper Nate Bell (Missoula, MT), who came in for the final 12 minutes, and was knocked over the line by Babeck Ebadpour.

It was only the third goal allowed in conference play this season by Whitworth. Starting keeper Kyle Novak, who did not have to make any saves with only four shots from Pacific in the match, heads into Sunday’s contest against George Fox with a shutout streak of nearly 500 minutes since allowing two in a 3-2 win at Pacific Lutheran ended his perfect start to the season in 695 minutes of play.