Sunday, November 3, 2013

Whitworth and Willamette play to a pair of draws

The Pirates play at home again Sunday on what will be Senior Day for the ladies | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
Finding goals was a difficult task Saturday at Whitworth as the Pirate ladies finished in a scoreless draw, their third in four games, against visiting Willamette and the men rallied for a 1-1 draw against the Bearcats, eliminating them from contention for the conference title that went to the University of Puget Sound with the day's results.

Willamette University 0 :: 0 Whitworth University - WOMEN

In a relatively uneventful contest with the two sides not allowing many quality scoring opportunities, both teams had decent stretches of play where it looked as though they were on the verge of finding that final moment only to come up empty-handed.

The Pirates' best chance arguably came up in the 17th minute as Tiara Pajimola unleashed a shot from the top of the box on the right side that sailed over. The rest of her 10 attempts were either off-target or relatively easy stops for Emily Sewall.

Eight minutes later the Bearcats had a nice build-up nearly put them on the board as Kinsey Keene (Eagle, ID) played the ball inside the box to Rachel Fleener, who laid the ball off to Paige Lancourt (Eagle, ID). Her shot from about 20 yards, however, went over the bar.

The visitors from Oregon nearly grabbed the win in the eighth minute of overtime when they had a series of tantalizing moments inside the box, including a shot from Fleener inside the six that Andrea Stump stopped to maintain the clean sheet on a four-save effort.

"Overall I was pleased with some of our ball movement, but was disappointed we did not finish some of the opportunities that we generated," said Whitworth head coach Jael Hagerott. "This is our fifth or sixth game in double overtime; credit to the girls in that we are playing with a very tight roster right now - we had 13 field players today - and they are staying tough. It would just be nice if we could start putting it into the back of the net.

Though the team has struggled with an injury-plagued lineup, the Pirates' defense has proven to be difficult for their Northwest Conference foes to break down. The shutout was their third in four games and seventh of the season in conference play - four of them coming in scoreless draws.

"The back line's been solid between Andrea Stump and Jami Hegg; Hannah Langbehn and Hannah Bokma. Overall they've been tough, they are sliding together as a group, they are cutting players out well. We've also not been conceding many corners, which is a huge improvement from the beginning of the season; so we just now hope they can continue keeping clean sheets and now hopefully we can put one in the other way."

Willamette University 1 :: 1 Whitworth University - MEN

The odds were long that the second-place Pirates could catch the Loggers for the Northwest Conference title based on the relatively easy remaining schedule for Puget Sound, but it would not matter as Whitworth's missed opportunities on the day would cost them with the draw.

It was not for a lack of trying though as Whitworth were the better side by a wide margin, and showed it with a 23-7 edge in shots - 11 on frame - and an 11-1 advantage in corners. At the other end Whitworth keeper Timmy Costa recorded only one save.

"The final ball just didn't drop for us; but hat's off, their goalkeeper played phenomenal and made some world-class saves," said Whitworth head coach Morgan Cathey. "It's not that we didn't have opportunities on target. We had over eight shots on goal, and to only have one drop is unlucky. They had one decent shot on goal and it went in; so it's just the way soccer is sometimes - it's a cruel game."

The Pirates had plenty of chances in the first half, but it was the Bearcats who nearly broke through first seven minutes in when Trevor Johnson ripped a shot from about 15 yards out on the right side that slipped through Costa's upraised hands as he attempted to snare the shot. The momentum carried the ball onward, but it rang off the far upper left corner of the woodwork.

Robby Ubben was a continual threat for Whitworth up front, but his efforts in the 22nd and 23rd minutes were off the mark and a fantastic run from defender Andrew Flint created a great chance in the 34th minute. After taking the ball up the right side he launched the ball into the box, and after plenty of dribbling and dancing around in the area looking for shots it eventually found the foot of David Starkovich for a 21-yard effort that was saved by Braydon Calder.

Five minutes later Sam Selisch unleashed a well-paced effort from about 15 yards out on the left side that nearly went through Calder's hands, but the ball popped slightly upward off his initial effort, allowing him to collect it with little trouble to keep the game scoreless going to the break.

A free kick deep in the left corner eight minutes into the second half nearly put the Pirates in front as the ball zipped by the head of Ubben, but the scramble in the aftermath created some anxiousness that concluded with defender Balin Larson having a shot saved.

Five minutes later Yazan Hishmeh sent a shot just wide for the Bearcats from about 14 yards and Ubben came close again in the 60th with a sliding shot about 15 yards out.

The missed chances proved costly for Whitworth as Willamette found some fortune following a throw-in well down the the right side. The restart went midway into the box, pin-balling around until it was knocked out off the bounce by a Whitworth defender. The clearance, however, did not end the opportunity as it fell to Tyler Yates about five yards outside the box, allowing the defender to touch the ball forward and fire a low-driven ball from 21 yards out straight forward inside the left post for the go-ahead goal in the 64th minute.

A corner in the 73rd minute from Spencer Wolfe nearly resulted in the equalizer as it produced a number of opportunities. Ultimately, the ball came out of the area but was sent back into the mix where Larson rose to nod it down at the far right post that started the frenzy that resulted in a couple of additional blocked shots.

With nine minutes remaining Whitworth finally made the persistence pay dividends when Ubben played the ball up to Selisch deep on the left edge of the area where he played it across to Sam Engle in the six on a play that the opposing argued was offside.

The game continued to provide drama with both sides having opportunities to claim the win but Ubben's attempted header in the 87th was denied by Calder and the visitors had a final chance on a free kick with just over a minute left in the second overtime session headed just wide.

Before that final Willamette chance, however, the hosts had what looked like a certain winner stopped by a great play from the keeper again three minutes into overtime when a ball served into the six on a short corner from the left side resulted in Engle rising up and getting to it on the far side. He redirected a looping effort back toward the left post, but Calder made a fantastic outstretched effort to snare it with what was easily the best save of the day.

"I thought we played some very good soccer at times and our guys have to be happy with the way that we played. It's just unfortunate at this point in the season that every point matters so much. You play very well yet the ball doesn't fall in, the goalkeeper has a great game; and you're now basically out of the picture. It's unfortunate, but our guys have to be… I am ecstatic with the way they battled and played the whole game. They really just gave everything that they had for each other. I have no qualms. Obviously it would have been nice if they would have put another one in, but you know, its the game of soccer.


Whitworth Women vs Lewis & Clark - 11:00
Whitworth Men vs Linfield - 1:30 (approx.)