by Leah Dassler
This weekend’s game proved to be a struggle for the women’s soccer team as they faced off against the Whitman Missionaries for their first official Northwest Conference game of the season. After splitting a set of games in Texas last week, the Pirates lost to the Missionaries, 1-2, bringing their record to 1-3-1 overall.
The Pirates focused on a highly defensive strategy; however, junior goalkeeper Andrea Stump ended up saving the net three times in the first 40 minutes.
“We know how Whitman plays, so our strategy was to recognize which areas they’re weak in and exploit those areas while at the same time trying to defend against what they’re good at. We tried to fight back the whole game. I think our resilience was really our strong point,” Stump said.
The Pirates continued defending shots and increased their offensive tempo, with junior Tiara Pajimola taking two unsuccessful wide shots at Whitman’s goalkeeper, Haley Case. The first period ended with no goals for either side.
“Coming out stronger in the first half and having energy last through the duration of the game are some areas we are working on as a team,” Pajimola said. “But overall our focus today was hitting clean shots, which I think we did better than games in the past.”
Two Whitman goals early in the second half put the Pirates in a tough spot.
“I think the defense did well even though [Whitman] scored twice,” sophomore forward Megan McCart said. “Overall, it was a good team effort.”
McCart succeeded in targeting Whitman’s forward Kelsey Peck and shutting down her attempts to distribute the ball across the field.
To avoid the shutout, the Pirates aggressively took the ball down the field, earning three more fouls as a result of a last push by the offense. No more shots were made until the final minute of the game, in which McCart scored her first goal this season with a free kick, avoiding a complete shutout by Whitman.
“Maybe a different team would say ‘2-0 down. We’re not going to play anymore.’ But we fought back with the goal down to the last minute. I think if we continue that we’ll only get stronger and stronger,” Head Coach Jael Haggerott said.
The team is hoping to adapt players to different roles so they can improve upon their fifth place finish in conference play last season, McCart said. The women play at home this Saturday in another NWC game against Lewis & Clark.