Monday, September 30, 2013

Whitworth splits homestand doubleheader against Pacific University

The Whitworth men had plenty to celebrate while the Pacific women won the other match | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The Whitworth men and women each saw a rally Sunday afternoon in home contests against Pacific University, but experienced them from different sides of the story. Tiara Pajimola's fantastic tally in the first half was not enough as the ladies fell 2-1 while the men rebounded from an early deficit - on a goal from Spokane native Ian Farley - to pull even and, after a Pacific red card, pull away in a 4-1 victory.

Pacific 2 :: 1 Whitworth - WOMEN
Tiara Pajimola - GALLERY

The visitors held the better of play for the first 15 minutes before the Pirates began to show some life on the offensive end and in the 17th minute the hosts grabbed the advantage on a fantastic play.

Megan McCart (East Wenatchee, WA) sent a throw-in from right touch line inside box where DeNae Vandam got her head to it, popping it straight up and left for a few yards to Tiara Pajimola (Spokane, WA), who brought it down off her chest with her back to goal and struck it one time on the turn inside left post from near the spot.

Seven minutes later a long ball was sent forward to Pajimola. She beat the drawn out goalkeeper and a pair of defenders to the ball, lifting it over them from the top of box only to see it go wide.

The Pirates would have two more excellent chances go wanting in the final five minutes of the half that would prove critical after the break. Pajimola created the first by sending a ball across from the right end line into the six that was missed by Ashley Rothrock (Spokane, WA), but a second chance on it fell to Molly Smith (Missoula, MT), who had her effort denied by goalkeeper Kayla Davidson.

Another ball forward to Pajimola inside the final two minutes also created the final chance of the half when she was fouled trying to bring ball down just outside box about a yard right of the corner of the arc. Defender Jami Hegg (Spokane, WA) sent the ensuing free kick off the crossbar.

With just under a half-hour remaining in the contest, the Boxers found a bit of lightning when a long ball played forward from Ashley Park-Hunt put Kara Lankey behind the Whitworth back line on a breakaway, allowing her to take her time approaching the goal and picking her spot inside the left post as Andrea Stump was left helpless.

Just over five minutes later, it was nearly an exact repeat of the first with another long ball forward to Lankey, who touched it forward as Hegg charged in and over-ran the play, allowing her on another break on goal. Stump, however, did well to come out and challenge, making a great initial stop only to see the rebound by Lankey recollected and lofted over from the left side into far back corner of goal for what stood as the winner.

Pacific 1 :: 4 Whitworth - MEN

Zach Waldher - GALLERY
For the second time on the weekend, the Pirate men found themselves trailing early when a quick counter sprung by Quitin Love at midfield saw the ball sent up the left side to Ian Farley (Spokane, WA - pictured above). Balin Larson came in on a slide tackle but Farley touched the ball ahead and leaped over, recollecting and finding the far side netting from about 13 yards out.

Whitworth pulled even in the 19th on a fantastic combination up the right side. Andrew French played the ball wide to Rylan Berriman, who drove in from the right drawing out goalkeeper Michael Summers before slipping the ball across the six where Zach Waldher (Whitefish, MT) buried into the open goal.

The game then took a turn when a rough tackle by the Boxers' Jorge Mandujano drew a yellow in the 22nd minute and another seemingly less dangerous tackle less than a minute later resulted in Scott Manago being sent off - a decision that coaches of both teams felt was excessive - and leaving Pacific a man down.

"I think we've been on the side of that now way too much so I empathize with Pacific because they came out and I thought they posed a lot of difficult things for us; mostly because we weren't sharp in the areas we usually are very sharp," said Whitworth head coach Morgan Cathey on the red card that changed the course of the contest. "We knew what they were going to bring, but we still weren't quite ready for it so it was a bit of fortune on our part as far as the game went because then we were able to find that extra player.

"And they never stopped working, Pacific was… I love that team. They worked for each other with everything they have. They bring a lot of passion and energy and I think they are gonna win a ton of games this year. They won their first five games and now they have lost five in a row, but their record shouldn't indicate that; I really like what they bring to the game."

From that point, though, the Pirates lived up to their names, continually attacking looking for more gold.

Robby Ubben thought he had the go-ahead goal in the 35th when he beat the keeper in the left corner only to see his shot cleared off the line by Garrick Knowles. On the ensuing restart from the corner the ball went to the far post where the Pirates had multiple stabs at it near post that began with a Will Wren header. Ultimately, Wren would get his foot on it in the scramble and put it away for the lead.

In the 59th minute a ball out of the midfield was sent to French on the left side where he beat the defenders to cross it into the six where Waldher finished for his fourth of the weekend.

Eight minutes later Nathan Fosket capped the scoring when he sent a well-paced ball across the six that went directly to a defender on the far side who had no choice but try to chest down only to see it go over the line instead.

Cathey instructs reserves headed into the match
From that point, it became a significant switches were made to the lineup on the field for Whitworth as the reserves logged some time, and eventually Pacific followed suit as time wore down at any chance of a rally.

The Boxers never gave up though. In the 84th minute they had a little bit of a build-up to create a scoring opportunity for Josh Farley, but his attempt went wide.

"For us, it's good to see that's the fourth game now that we have played at home. We scored five goals in the first three games and we scored four again today. I was impressed by some of the freshmen; they really stepped up to the plate. Zach Waldher scored four goals this weekend and he's shown that he deserves to be on the field and Rylan Berriman, another freshman, I think had two or three assists and a goal. It's been great to see those guys rise to the occasion this weekend and really push the seniors not to take any time off.

"We have such a great squad of players and its going to take all of us to accomplish what we want to accomplish this season and we now go into a really nice three-game stretch - Whitman, PLU, UPS - so its going to be three very tough games but I think this will do a lot for us, this weekend. I'm excited to see how the guys respond this week in training and go from there."

The two home wins came after a lengthy spell away from home that saw the Pirates play six games on the road in Texas and Oregon in a three-week span, going 3-2-1.

"It's unbelievable. I forgot what our field looked like; I forgot what my home looked like," said the first year Whitworth coach, whose only previous home game in charge came in their preseason exhibition against North Idaho College at the end of August. "Geeze, it was a lot of travel for us and I think its a great atmosphere here for us. Our guys love playing here, our fans are amazing and we seem to create a lot more opportunities than when we are away. It was really nice to be here, really nice.

"And, it gives you an opportunity to play all of your players," he added, eluding to the fact the Pirates put 28 players on the pitch Sunday. "When we travel you are limited in the players we can take. When we're home it gives us an opportunity for guys to touch the field that weren't able to travel last week so I think that's valuable for their development."