Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Whitman edges rival Whitworth 1-0 in NWC women's opener

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In a match where each side had the better of play for a half, it was the visiting Missionaries that were able to break the stalemate, tallying their first goal of the campaign via a Danielle Wieck penalty to record their first positive result of the season as the Northwest Conference opened play in the women's league Wednesday.

The Pirates came out and had the better of play in the first half, but the Whitman defense, which allowed only five goals in their 0-4-0 non-conference slate, held strong once again to keep themselves in it well into the second half and ultimately earn the win.

"Our back line is tough, and when they play tough, they're good," said Whitman Head Coach Laura Williamson. "In the first half, they weren't playing so tough and they woke up a bit and they definitely held us down for the rest of the game."

Whitworth tested them early when goalkeeper Haley Case made a poor clearance and it was immediately sent back to goal. The shot, lofted to goal, gave Case enough time to recover, but she made things interesting as she misjudged the bounce and had to make a last-second lunge to save the ball.

In the 12th minute Whitman nearly took the lead when Lena de Guzman sent a shot from the top of the area narrowly wide right after an initial attempt was blocked.

Two minutes later Kelly Wucherer fired a shot from about 16 yards that forces Case to knock it over the goal to keep things scoreless.

Two minutes into the second half the Pirates nearly jumped in front when a high bouncing ball on the left side of the area led to miscommunication and play between Case and her defenders, allowing Arielle Van Peursem to poke the ball at goal. The ball, though, smacked off the left post and rebounded right to Case to smother.

From there the Missionaries came out and took it to Whitworth in the second half, possessing the ball in the offensive half for a good portion of the period and forcing the hosts to rely on counterattacks for most of their opportunities.

"We came out in the second half a different team. I think we were still asleep and on the bus in the start of that first half - a little bit of deer in the headlights," said Williamson. "At halftime we basically said we had to get tough, and we took it to 'em. Whitworth looks like a good squad this year. They had great opportunities and somehow we just ended up on top."

Just one minute later a ball was served in from the left side and Chelsea Day first-timed a shot inside the box right to Whitworth goalkeeper Andrea Stump.

Day got another chance in the 62nd minute with her shot narrowly slipping over the crossbar after her initial attempts at the top of the box were stuffed by defenders.

"They are very fluid. I think we had it solved in the first half then they either woke up more or we got tired, or it just got more difficult for us to take care of it," said Whitworth Head Coach Jael Hagerott. "They are a very good team and I think it shows. I think they will do very well in conference."

Whitworth again came close to claiming the lead in the 75th minute when Brooke Morrow took the ball from the right side into the area before sliding the ball across the box, allowing DeNae Vandam to run on let loose a shot that nearly beat Case.

Two minutes later, the Missionaries got the break they needed to get their first goal of the campaign.

"That's the game - where if you don't finish your opportunities you ultimately end up paying for it, and we did that today," said Hagerott. "I thought we lost control of the midfield and that's really what started costing us in the second half."

Alissa Soo, who had been a handful all game long making runs through the midfield and setting up the Whitman attack, received the ball just outside the left side of the area and drove into the box before being tackled by Hannah Langbehn. The resulting penalty was driven inside the left post by Danielle Wieck in the 78th minute.

"This one feels really good. We've been looking for that goal and we finally break through," Williamson said. "We actually created some really good goal scoring opportunities today as well. Feels good. Feels good to get the first win.

From there, the Missionaries withstood Whitworth's push for an equalizer in the final 10 minutes to secure the victory.

"We've been playing well and been doing good things. You always want the team to be rewarded for their performances on the field, but at the same time the game is brutal, because again if you don't score then you leave yourself vulnerable that way," Hagerott said of dropping the conference opener and third consecutive match by one goal. "So for us, its taking one game at a time; the season is long and we keep moving forward."

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