The Whitworth men’s soccer team notched a pair of victories over the Linfield College Wildcats and the Willamette University Bearcats at home on Oct. 29 and 30, solidifying their second place position in the conference standings and extending their match win streak to five games. Senior midfielder Cameron Bushey led the way against Linfield, scoring both Pirate goals in a 2-0 Whitworth victory. The Wildcats were unable to handle Bushey’s free kick expertise, as both of the midfielder’s goals came in free kick situations.
In the 26th minute, senior defender Taylor Willi and Bushey utilized a free kick set play for a score. Willi tapped a free kick just a couple feet from the dead ball position, which created a seam in the defense for Bushey to strike the ball around the player wall and past the goalie to give Whitworth the lead.
Whitworth’s second goal came in the match’s 66th minute. Bushey didn’t need assistance in this instance, finding the back of the net directly off a free kick from the top of the box for his team-leading seventh goal of the year.
“It takes a lot of practice, and I’ve taken a lot of them in practice,” Bushey said of the free kicks. “I like to take them, it’s just a place where I feel confident. Obviously when you have success with them, that kind of builds on it.”
The Wildcats had to play a man down for nearly half the match because the Linfield’s keeper received a red card for using his hands outside the goalie box in the 49th minute. However, Linfield’s defense adequately contained the Pirate offense for the majority of the match. The Wildcats kept the Pirates to just the one free kick goal while playing a man down.
“It is hard to be good every time,” head coach Sean Bushey said. “That was our poorest performance of the year, but it was good to still to win, and that shows something about the character of the team.”
Though only one red card was given, three other Wildcat players and one Whitworth player were given yellow cards in the physical contest. Linfield committed 15 fouls in the match, while the Pirates had 13 fouls of their own. Though unable to capitalize as much as they would have liked, the Bucs’ offense kept the Linfield defense busy, taking a total of 21 shots in comparison to the Wildcats’ six.
Whitworth’s senior goalkeeper Brian Sherpe made three saves in the Pirates’ shutout effort.
On Sunday, the Bucs scored early and often, en route to a 6-1 victory over the Willamette Bearcats.
“We had the ball and we moved it quickly,” Coach Bushey said. “I thought we came out much sharper, and our soccer movement was excellent.”
It was senior defender Dion Coxe that scored first, heading in the ball off a cross from Cameron Bushey in the 32nd minute. Willi provided the next two Pirate scores, the first off an assist from senior defender Nic Shaw in the 43rd minute and his second in the 49th minute off assists from sophomore midfielder Andrew French and freshman midfielder Matt Bray.
“We call it the Willi Smash,” Coach Bushey said of Willi’s shots. “He hits the ball so hard. He can handle the ball and he’s just a good player.”
Sophomore midfielders Anders Nostdahl and Sam Selisch also scored in the second half for Whitworth, as did senior forward Matt Miller.
Like they did Saturday, the Bucs controlled ball possession and outshot Willamette 25-8, and held a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal.
“When you get going early, [other teams] settle in a little more and there just becomes more gaps where we like to play it in,” Cameron Bushey said.
Sherpe had one save to anchor a solid Whitworth defense that limited Willamette to very few legitimate goal-scoring opportunities.
“It is something we are taking pride in,” Coach Bushey said of the strong Whitworth defense this season. “We are in the top seven in the country in goals against.”
Whitworth ended its season on Nov. 5 with a win over Whitman College.
By Andrew Forhan