Men’s soccer shines in opening two rounds

by Jessica Razanadrakoto

Senior Micheal Ramos continued his season-long shooting form on Friday night with his 14th goal of the season in Whitworth’s 1-0 victory over Covenant College in the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates continued their winning streak on Saturday evening, outscoring Berry College 2-0 in the second round of the tournament.

“Mainly, for the team, it’s not about the result, it’s about the process: getting better every week and it’s been a huge satisfaction, not only for me, but for a lot of other players that have dedicated their life to soccer,” Ramos said. “[However,] now that we’re in postseason, we focus more on the result because we need to win to stay in the tournament.”

Friday’s game proved more challenging for the Pirates, as the Scots outshot the Pirates 8-6 while edging the Pirates in corner kicks, 6-5. In contrast, Saturday’s match proved more manageable, as the Pirates dominated the first half with a 21-4 shot advantage along with 6-0 on corner kicks.

Ramos scored the first and only goal for the Pirates with six minutes left to play in the game on Friday night. Freshman midfielder Eric Espinoza was credited for the assist when Ramos received the ball and dribbled it to the left side of the box. He then kicked it with his left foot and the ball ended up in the back of the lower-right corner of the net.

A Covenant player tried to tie the game on a corner kick with two minutes left, but the Pirate defenders cleared the ball to secure the win.

“We were successful, we did everything we needed to do, the way we needed to play. We created space with patient passing and movement,” Espinoza said.

On Saturday evening, junior midfielder Sam Engle took advantage of a Viking defender’s miscue and scored an early leading header goal for the Pirates in the 11th minute. Defenders, senior Colin Shockman and junior Spencer Wolfe, were credited for the assist.

At the beginning of the game, the opposing team did not perform their best, whereas, in the second half, they showed that they wanted a goal. The Pirates learned from their coaches that the Vikings score a lot of their goals in the second half, which displayed their determination in the second half, Espinoza said.

Espinoza doubled the score for the Pirates off of a short pass from freshman midfielder Austin Cassity, who beat his defender in the 67th minute.

“It was one of the most complete performances we’ve had all year: to not give up goals in five straight games,” Head Coach Morgan Cathey said.

Sophomore goalkeeper Timmy Costa made two saves on Friday night and one save on the following day, claiming the Pirates’ eighth shutout with Costa’s sixth shutout of the season.

Whitworth men’s soccer continues their NCAA Tournament play in the round of 16 against Christopher Newport University on Saturday.

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