by Anesu Mujenge | Staff Writer
Following a 2-0 victory over George Fox University on Saturday, the Pirates took on ninth place Pacific University in a six-goal thriller, defeating them 5-1 to propel themselves back to the top of the Conference with 31 points.
The initial proceedings were marred with mistakes, as both sides failed to establish control. Energized pressing play from the Pirate midfield perpetuated the physical opening. The Boxers reciprocated, as a lapse in Pirate concentration led to a speedy counter attack in which a great chance was skied over the Pirate goal, fifteen minutes into the first half. The game grew increasingly open. Two minutes later, the Pirates displayed counter attacking of their own, with Leah Corra, ‘18, hitting the post with a header following a cross into the box. Shortly after, a low cross into the Boxer’s penalty area saw Kelly Wuchecher, ‘19, strike the ball into the gloves of the Boxer’s goalkeeper. Amidst the offensive play, Jadyn Baumgartner, ‘21, and Katie Bischoff, ‘18 defended intelligently, while providing through balls into the attacking third.
In the 30th minute, the offensive pressure paid off, as Jennifer Loehner, ‘18, was fouled in the penalty area following incisive play towards the goal. Bischoff, stepped up to take the penalty kick, and tucked the ball neatly into bottom left corner to put the Pirates 1-0 up. Following the goal, the game became increasingly physical. Mental strength was paramount. As pressure on the Pirate defense mounted, Sydney Weiler, ‘19, and Tatem Frederickson, ‘19, defended with shielding of the ball in one-on-one encounters, and composed passing in the defense. The first half finished 1-0 to the pirates.
The second half opened with the Pirates determined to put the game away early, and sure enough, within ten minutes of the second half, Michelle Whan,’19, thumped the ball into the top corner of the Boxer’s goal from 20 yards out, following quick interchanges in the final third. As the Pirates built momentum, a great ball from Arielle Van Peursem, ‘19, cut through the Boxer’s defense with Corra, through on goal and on one with the keeper. Corra, calmly slotted the ball into the Boxer’s goal to score her eighth goal of the season, and give the Pirates a comfortable three goal lead in the 75th minute. Shortly after, Bischoff hit the crossbar with an impressive free kick.
Amidst the attacking onslaught, stern Pirate defending characterized the second half, as Frederickson continued to lead the backline with great defensive plays.
“What our team does really well, is integrate our defense with our attack. Everyone is important in moving forward,” said Frederickson.
As the game came to a close, the offensive players elevated their attacking prowess. In the 84th minute, midfielder Coby Yoshimura, ‘19, found herself through on goal, and calmly dinked the ball over the Boxer’s goalkeeper, as the ball glided into the net to put the pirates 4-0 up. While the Pirates searched for a fifth goal, their backline was left exposed, and the Boxers took advantage of this by scoring a consolation goal in the 85th minute. Shortly after, Yoshimura once again found herself in a dangerous position, where she was fouled in the penalty area to gain the Pirates their second penalty of the game. Forward Kara Need, ‘18, stepped up to the penalty spot and scored her first goal of the season with aplomb. The game ended 5-1 to the Pirates.
Despite a rough start with minimal control, the Pirates built steadily to win the game. While an impressive score line stands, the Pirate’s game was bolstered by their stern and resilient defense.
“The defense did their job very well, and it was great to see the carry-over from yesterday. Our goal, when it is very simplified, is to deny goal-scoring opportunities,” coach Bryan Olson said.
“We have quality soccer players, but the type of human beings that they are, reflects in how they work with the mental fortitude,” concluded coach Olson.
As the season comes to a close, the Pirates are up for some schedule-deciding fixtures this coming weekend against Puget Sound on 28. Oct, and Pacific Lutheran on Oct. 29 at 12 p.m. respectively. Today’s victory places them in a position to go on and produce similar results.