|Full gallery INWsn match photos [+]|
The reigning Northwest Conference champion Pirates finished their first run through the league opposition with a 6-0-1 record and just one goal allowed. On Saturday, the squad was impressive in its possession and flow of play from front to back on the pitch and top to bottom on the roster as 20 players took the field.
Amidst a few early chances for the visitors, the third-ranked Pirates grabbed the lead 10 minutes into the contest when Karl Muelheims (Spokane, WA) battled through a handful of defenders in the box, keeping the ball and knocking in the opening tally from about five yards out.
From there, the Pirates held control of the contest with the defense limiting the Missionaries to just nine shots on the day, three of them on goal.
"It's good for us to continue to get clean sheets. I thought our centerbacks were phenomenal the whole goal - defending and attacking I thought they were amazing. And, I thought our fullbacks had great games as well. Ty Pangia was awesome in the first 25 minutes and Ty Cardinale was awesome after that. Aaron Yanagi had a great game and Brandon Ho came in and did awesome. Some really good performances from a lot of guys, which I was really, really happy about."
At the other end Whitworth had 16 shots in the game as they continually probed the Whitworth defense for opportunities.
They nearly pushed the lead to two with five minutes left in the half when a corner kick found the head of Sean Bender, but his effort hit the corner of the woodwork and left the outcome in reach for Whitman.
Having been continually building up the attack through possession throughout the game, the Bucs surprised Whitman when centerback Spencer Wolfe launched a ball over the back line from the center circle that connected with an onrushing Rylan Berriman, who charged toward goal and finished from the right side.
"Guys played really, really hard. I think we are really driven to get better every day, and you saw today I think we got better than our last performance and we had some players really step up and I thought played really well in what we wanted to do in the game plan. It was a a good selfless performance from our guys today, and hopefully we'll grow on this, get better on this."
For Whitman, the loss concluded a 1-5-1 run through the first half of the conference campaign under new coach Jose Cedeno, who was appointed to the position in May after the retirement of longtime coach Mike Washington. The former Hunter College (NY) head coach from 2005-11 won the DIII CUNYAC league twice under his stewardship and reached the national tournament three times.
Though the program had at least three wins at this point each of the last two years, Cedeno felt his team did well on the day against the Pirates and is encouraged at how things are progressing as he is experiencing the NWC for the first time.
The 2-0 loss against a highly-ranked opponent was another in a series of close-fought defeats for the Missionaries, who came into the match with all six previous games decided by two goals or fewer and was a vast improvement on last year's 6-1 and 3-0 losses to Whitworth.
"I think the score doesn't usually reflect the way that we have been playing, or at least our effort hasn't shown in the results. I think that we are definitely giving all that we got and at times we have outshot our opponents, but unfortunately have not been able to get the results in our favor.
"I think now knowing the opponents a little better, I think going into the second games we might be able to turn things around a bit. And I think the guys deserve to get some results - they've been working really hard.
-- INWsn --