by Leah Dassler
The women’s soccer team split wins during their sixth and seventh Northwest Conference games this season, bringing their conference record to 2-5. Saturday’s game against Pacific Lutheran University resulted in a 3-0 loss, but with improved defense in Sunday’s game, the Pirates pulled off a victory against the University of Puget Sound.
During a scoreless first half, Whitworth kept the ball mainly in PLU territory. PLU’s contentious offense fought back, outdoing the Pirates in goal attempts six to two. Freshman Katie Bischoff attempted Whitworth’s two shots on the goal, but both went wide. Junior goalkeeper Andrea Stump saved three out of six PLU shots. The remaining shots hit wide and high.
PLU’s aggressive offensive play following halftime ended in the penalty box before PLU could make a goal. Four minutes into the period, PLU took the ball up the right side of Whitworth territory, shooting the ball wide off the goal post but then scoring off of the rebound.
“PLU’s strategy was to kick [the ball] to their wide players and to overlap the outside backs to cross in the back side. We just weren’t tracking the back side,” Bischoff said.
PLU targeted Stump’s open left side for their first goal. Junior Tiara Pajimola, in response, dug in offensively with an ineffective high shot. PLU scored again in the 77th minute, with another left-side play. A foul on Whitworth resulted in a penalty kick and PLU’s third goal in the 84th minute. This is the only time this season another team has scored more than twice on the Pirates.
“We had an excellent first half today in terms of our possession and the opportunities we generated on the goal,” Head Coach Jael Hagerott said. “Today was not a bad game despite the score. Once you’re 1-0 behind, you have to take risks in order to score, and we ended up paying for it.”
On Sunday, Pajimola started the Pirates off with a goal on University of Puget Sound in the second minute. She continued the Pirate’s possession and offensive focus, stealing the ball from UPS defense and taking a high shot at the goal. Stump saved four shots in the first sixteen minutes. The Pirates scrambled for a successful defensive play to deflect a corner kick from UPS. UPS’ offense pushed possession in favor of the Loggers, who outshot the Pirates 15 to two in the first half.
Sophomore Hannah Langbehn led Whitworth defensively in the second half, thwarting five of PLU’s unsuccessful shots on the goal. UPS’ defense protected their goal equally as well as the Pirates, shutting down all of Pajimola’s and sophomore Megan McCart’s offensive movements.
“[Saturday] we took risks. I don’t think it was defense, I just think it was the way we were trying to score after we got down. [On Sunday], I’d say we were playing tougher and we didn’t let up like we did a couple of times yesterday,” Langbehn said.
The Pirates will play George Fox University in Oregon on Saturday at noon.