Bucs take care of business on home pitch

by Korey Hope

Junior defender Will Wren scored three goals last weekend, lifting the Whitworth men’s soccer squad to a 2-0 victory over Linfield on Saturday, and a 1-0 win over Willamette on Sunday. The matches were the first Northwest Conference games this year for the Pirates, putting Whitworth (5-0-1, 2-0 NWC) in the early driver’s seat.

In Whitworth’s first game against the Linfield Wildcats, the Pirates’ fast pace kept their opponent out of sync the entire match. The fast-paced style of play won a free kick for Whitworth down the left side in the 15th minute. Mike Chavez crossed the ball into the box and found the head of Will Wren who smoothly directed it into the back of the net at the near post.

“It was all just kind of instinctive,” Wren said when recounting his first goal.

The instincts Wren was feeling continued nine minutes later on a corner kick taken by junior Anders Nostdahl. He crossed the ball in towards the back post, where it got past Linfield’s goalkeeper Scott Goodman and fell right to Wren’s head once more, and he calmly put the Bucs up 2-0 with just under 20 minutes left in the first half.

The Pirates not only dominated the game on the offensive side, but on the defensive side as well, allowing only two shots the entire game.

“We just work so well together, we all have great chemistry,” said Wren. “We also have great coaches. They have a ton of experience and they help us out a lot.”

The Wildcats’ leading goal scorers Jake Baker and Danny Snelgrow were completely halted, and found themselves playing more defense than offense. With Whitworth’s suffocating defense and pressing offense, Linfield (2-2, 0-1 NWC) failed to get any shots on target.

On Sunday, Whitworth took on the Willamette Bearcats in the second game on the weekend, and wasted no time implementing their fast style of play once again. Although it took them 83 minutes to break through, Will Wren managed to get the job done once again, this time with his feet.

He remained in the attack quite a bit during the match, allowing him to receive the ball on the left flank late in the game. From there, Wren maneuvered past two Willamette defenders to the middle of the field and fired a shot from 18 yards out that deflected off the hands of the Bearcats’ goalkeeper Brayden Calder, and into the goal. Calder, a freshman, had a fantastic performance up to that point, keeping the Bearcats in the game until the end with critical saves early in the game and just before halftime.

However, the Pirates’ quick and relentless attacking took a toll on the Willamette defense and goaltender.

When asked about the team’s conditioning and fitness, Wren explained that the quick pace of Whitworth’s game requires them to be fit, so the conditioning comes with the style of play.

“We have a lot of quick guys, too. Like [Andrew] French on the outside, he always makes things happen with his speed,” Wren said.

Willamette was a difficult task for the Pirates’ offense, more so than Linfield. The Bearcats held Whitworth to just three shots on target in the game as opposed to Linfield’s allowance of nine. Whitworth’s defense, however, continued its stellar play, allowing a total of just one shot on target for the whole weekend. Senior goalkeeper Kyle Novak went the first 177 minutes on the weekend without having to make a save.

The team is back in action next weekend, traveling to George Fox (0-6-1, 0-2 NWC) on Saturday, and then to Pacific (2-5, 0-2 NWC) on Sunday.

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu.

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