Friday, August 30, 2013

Whitworth Women hold on for 2-1 win against nationally ranked Cal Lutheran in opener

Whitworth posts victory in season opener | Photos: Gerald Barnhart - GALLERY
After just eight minutes, it looked like the Whitworth ladies were going to have themselves a somewhat easy go of it Friday afternoon in the opener of the Whitworth Classic with two early goals from Tiara Pajimola and Kristin Wucherer, but things turned out very differently en route to the 2-1 Pirates victory in their season opener against Cal Lutheran, who came in ranked 21 in the Division III preseason poll.

Tiara Pajimola
In the fifth minute of the game last year’s breakout star freshman Tiara Pajimola (Spokane, WA) picked up right where she left off last fall, collecting a ball behind the defense for what looked like a certain goal scoring opportunity. Unfortunately, she was unable to round the keeper as she got to the ball and was not given the chance to let loose at the open goal from the edge of the area due to the recovering defenders.

The Shadle Park product, however, got a second bite at the apple less than a minute later when she fired a fantastic shot from about 24 yards out from just right of the center of the field, directing the shot between a defender and the outstretched keeper to the far post.

Three minutes later a dangerous ball out of the midfield led to an easy tap-in for Kristin Wucherer. The long, arcing ball from Megan McCart (East Wenatchee, WA) took a bounce before goalkeeper Kristin Bailey could get to it at the edge of the six, catching her awkwardly and allowing the charging Wucherer to essentially walk it into the goal.

Kristin Wucherer
The Pirates continued to dominate the first half of the contest with fellow sophomore and Shadle product Hannah Bokma unleashing a shot with 11 minutes left that looked at first as though it was going over only to drop at the last second and clang off the crossbar, inches from the keeper’s reach to parry away.

Less than a minute later, things began to turn against the Pirates. Pajimola exited the contest with what turned out to be a concussion and with 10 seconds remaining in the half Cal Lutheran found the back of the net, taking advantage of a defensive error that left one defender on the back side all alone with Kristina Hulse, who was the school’s primary threat all contest.

Hulse took the ball with a great opportunity to score, but after having her initial effort on the left side of the area stopped by her marker, she turned and delivered a low cross into the center where Nicole Campbell buried it first time inside the right upright.

Kristina Hulse
“The goal was unfortunate; we were working on opening up and playing out. They didn’t execute the way we wanted it,” said head coach Jael Hagerott, who was employing a completely new back line. “We paid for it, but we’d rather it happen now then in season play so that’s alright.

“In terms of the momentum shift; we sort of got back on our heels - technical breakdowns and they started pushing forward, so you have to give them credit on that. We also lost Tiara to a concussion, so that always takes away some of your momentum up top. But, we did stand strong and we weathered a multitude of corner kicks, so on that I give credit to the girls on getting it out.”

The second half turned out to be a completely different contest as the now confident Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions pressured the Whitworth goal constantly during the half, suffering agonizing near misses on numerous occasions and creating 10 corners as they spent a majority of the time in the offensive third. Andrea Stump made nine saves on the day with her teammates adding another two, including Amy Sterk (Pullman, WA), who stopped a nice header off a corner with her chest in the 59th.

Whitworth’s best chance in the second half came from a nice run from Amber Craig (Pasco, WA), who took the ball from midfield and drove up the left side before launching a shot from 22 yards that slipped just over the goal.

The second half also saw a continuation of new faces taking the field as Hagerott tested out her new players and took a look at some returning faces in new positions, including Bokma in a more defensive role and injured goalkeeper Ashley Rothrock (Spokane, WA), who suffered a broken arm several weeks ago in training.

“It’s just about sorting them out and seeing who we want to put out there,” she said. “Tiara is a very important part of the team, but you can’t always –- [strikers] can be a gamebreaker absolutely but hopefully you have other people that can step in and fill the void – [we are] continuing to find that out.

“[Ashley is] athletic and she has the ability to play in the field, so today was just about giving her a little bit of time getting to get used to actually being out there, “ Hagerott added about her sophomore keeper from Shadle. As soon as we can get her back in goal, we would like to have her available there, but for right now she has gifts and we’d like to use them.”

Southwest (TX) 0 :: 4 Pacific Lutheran

The lady Knights of PLU marched to an easy victory on the upper field at Whitworth. Lauren Larson scored the opening goal in the 26th minute on a play set up by Kaylie Rozell, who went on to score the final goal of the contest in the 73rd minute. Nicoya Benham-Marin (Eagle, ID) delivered a cross to Samantha Benner less than a minute later to double the lead. Benner tallied a second nine minutes into the second half, heading in a long ball from Blake Warner.