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by Josiah VanWingerden
The Whitworth Men’s soccer team remains undefeated coming out of this weekend’s double-header match-ups, which featured two key opponents within the Northwest Conference. The Pirates topped the University of Puget Sound Loggers Saturday afternoon, 2-0, before defeating the Pacific Lutheran Lutes on Sunday, 1-0.
The Pirates’ ability to find holes in the defense, paired with efficient combination passing, gave them the opportunity to take a considerable edge with corner kicks, 4 to 3.
They were also able to take advantage of extra possessions as the Pirates totaled 14 shots to Loggers one.
Execution was also a major contributing factor to Whitworth’s success Saturday.
“It was great to see our guys go out and play really confident, knowing what they were going to do, but also, you know what they were going to do, but you still have to execute,” Pirates head coach Morgan Cathey said. “So our guys really executed well.”
Senior forward, Sam Engle scored the first goal of the game, 14 minutes into the first half. Senior midfielder Samual Jarret was credited with the assist.
“We were able to keep the ball on their half for pretty much the entire game,” Engle said. “So it worked out pretty well for our game plan.”
Last season’s loss against the Loggers served as motivation for the game on Saturday.
“I think it was a moral victory for our guys,” Cathey said, referring to the pair of games last year. “We tied there and we lost at home and so for us to be able to get out early and dominate the game and get rewarded by goals gives our guys a little bit more passion going into tomorrow.”
Sunday’s game was a hard-fought, defensive battle, against the Pacific Lutheran Lutes. The Pirates needed that extra passion to translate onto the field.
Engle scored the game’s only goal, with a well-executed assist from sophomore defender Aaron Yanagi just three minutes into the first half.
“It feels good to get two goals this week, especially PLU and UPS weekend,” Engle said. “It’s always a big weekend.”
Despite allowing the early score, the Lutes proved to be a challenge for the Pirates, playing at a much faster pace. They applied a dangerous amount of pressure that did not allow Whitworth to control the tempo or possession. Neither team was able to gain a considerable advantage all afternoon.
“It was hard for us to play our game against them, and they [pressed] us really well,” Cathey said of Pacific Lutheran. “And so I think it’s great because it’s going to challenge our team to get better at what we do, and that’s a really good thing.”
The Lutes out-shot the Pirates on goal, four to three, but only took 11 shot attempts, compared to the Pirates 14. Additionally, the Lutes challenged the Pirates’ side of the field much more than the Loggers.
“One of the pillars of our team is just grit, and just grinding games out,” Yanagi said. “And we knew it was going to be a tough finish, keep persevering and keep working hard, and we knew things would go our way.”
The Pirates now hold first in the Northwest Conference, with an 8-0 record overall, and a 4-0 conference record.
The men’s soccer team will compete this Friday in Oregon, to face the Pacific University Tigers.
Contact Josiah VanWingerden at firstname.lastname@example.org