Pirates near conference title with weekend sweep

Whitworth stays undefeated in NWC action, one win away from league title

The 9th-ranked Whitworth men’s soccer team collected a pair of home wins last weekend, with a 3-0 win against Pacific University Saturday, and a dominant 6-0 victory over George Fox Sunday. These wins put the Bucs seven points clear of Pacific Lutheran in the NWC standings and in need of only one more conference victory to clinch the 2012 NWC crown.

Saturday’s game saw the Pirates take on Pacific, who were sitting seventh in the NWC standings before the weekend. From the start of the match, Whitworth controlled the flow of play, firing 11 shots in the first half to Pacific’s three. Junior midfielder Andrew French led the team in the first half with three shots, a goal and an assist.

“He just continues to work hard,” head coach Sean Bushey said. “He’s had to persevere and it was good to see him get rewarded.”

French’s first highlight came from a shot that ricocheted off the post from 18 yards out, and fell right to sophomore forward Robby Ubben at the mouth of the goal, who tapped in the easy rebound to put the Pirates up 1-0 less than 15 minutes into the match.

The Bucs continued to press in the second half, and this time it was Ubben who helped create an easy goal for French, playing freshman forward Samuel Engle who crossed into French on the far post. Whitworth’s third and final goal gave freshman forward Karl Muelheims his first goal of his collegiate career, on senior forward Kekoa Mountcastle’s first assist of the year. A late goal off a corner kick put Pacific on the board, but wasn’t nearly enough to bring the Boxers back into the match. Whitworth out-shot Pacific 19-4. Sunday’s game against last-place George Fox was dominated by Whitworth as well, this time out-shooting their opponent 29-5. French continued his tally for the weekend, contributing two of the Pirates six goals, four of which came in the second half.

“I got to play a little bit higher up the field today,” French said. “And we passed really well around the box, so it was easy to find the net.”

Ubben added another goal on Sunday as well, with a delicate chip over GFU goalkeeper Elliott Davis on an assist from Engle, his second assist of the weekend.

“Engle stripped the ball from the defender and played me into space,” Ubben said. “I saw the keeper coming out and the only way past him was over him.”

The Bucs’ other three goals gave three Pirates each their first goal of the season, including Mountcastle, junior defender Balin Larson and sophomore midfielder Nathan Fosket. Only three games remain for Whitworth on the regular season schedule, traveling to Willamette and Linfield on Oct. 27 and 28, respectively, and ending the season at Whitman on Nov. 3. A victory in any of those matchups will secure a NWC title for the Bucs.

Korey Hope Staff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope15@my.whitworth.edu