by Whitney Carter
The Whitworth women’s soccer team rebounded from a tough preseason non-conference schedule with victories over Whitman College, Lewis & Clark College and Willamette University this past week.
The team had struggled early in the season, entering the week with a 0-4 record. The Pirates were plagued with injuries throughout the preseason.
“When we are playing well, we’ll be very competitive. If not, it will be a learning experience given the injuries we’ve had,” said head coach Jael Hagerott earlier in the week about the team’s potential over the season.
Whitworth ended its losing streak with a 1-0 victory against Whitman in a close match.
Against Whitman, the Bucs outshot the opponent 11-1 in the first half. In the second half, both teams had opportunities to score with Whitworth outshooting the Missionaries 6-5.
The game-winning goal came in the 86th minute from junior forward Amy Sterk. Sterk was assisted by a cross from freshman forward Tiara Pajimola.
On Saturday, the Pirates continued their winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Lewis & Clark.
Whitworth did an impressive job keeping possession throughout the game. The match was a hard-fought battle; however, Whitworth did an excellent job winning loose balls. Coach Hagerott credited that as a main reason for their success in this match.
Both goals of the match were scored in the first half. In the 12th minute, senior defender Carly Schilperoort had an impressive corner kick right to the goal mouth. Sterk was able to connect with a header that flew past the Lewis & Clark keeper.
“We worked on the set plays at practice,” Sterk said.
Whitworth was able to keep the pressure up directly following their goal with a series of attacks.
Much of Whitworth’s success came from its ability to work the ball around the field, highlighted by strong passing between members of the backline. Freshman goalkeeper Andrea Stump was able to control the ball and distribute it well in the back. Stump had a great game with seven total saves.
Stump’s performance was highlighted by a save during which she punched a Lewis & Clark shot off the crossbar to save the goal. Five of her saves came in the second half.
The second and final goal of the match came near the end of the first half. During the 39th minute, Sterk came down the field on a breakaway and found Pajimola, who finished the play with a shot past the Lewis & Clark goalkeeper into the middle left of the goal.
“I was just trying to read the defense and decide if I should take the shot myself,” Sterk said. She saw that Pajimola had a better opportunity. It paid off and doubled Whitworth’s lead.
Sunday’s match slated the Pirates against the Willamette Bearcats. The game was scoreless in the first half, in an evenly contested battle. Willamette had six shots in the first half, Whitworth had seven.
The momentum shifted in the second half, with Whitworth in control for much of the time.
Whitworth had ten shots to Willamette’s eight, and Willamette’s keeper had five saves to Whitworth’s three.
The first goal of the match came from a corner kick. In the 64th minute, Schilperoort took the kick and Sterk was able to connect with a header after some confusion in the mouth of the goal, very similar to her goal in Saturday’s game.
The second goal came unassisted by Pajimola. She took a big shot from outside that went to the right upper corner of the goal, just past the Willamette keeper’s fingertips. Pajimola is currently tied for fourth place in conference for goals scored.
The wins bring the Pirates to 3-4 overall, with a 3-0 start to conference play. Next the Bucs will turn their attention to George Fox University and Pacific (Ore.) University as they travel to Oregon to play next weekend.
Contact Whitney Carter at email@example.com.