Three first half goals proved to be enough as the Whitworth Pirates edged the UCSC Banana Slugs 3-2 to secure their fifth consecutive win following an exhibition game against Trinity Western last month. Despite allowing a 14-6 advantage to the Slugs in shots, including a 9-1 advantage in shots for the second half, the Pirate defense held and they finished off non-conference play undefeated. Senior Eduardo Lopez and senior Micheal Ramos made an impact on the game early with a Ramos assist to Lopez for a header into the net. The goal marked the first of his Whitworth career for Lopez, who transferred from Cal State Stanislaus after last year.
“It was very good. It was a good experience and I’m happy that I was finally able to net,” Lopez said in regard to his first goal.
From there, the Pirates continued their offensive tempo, increasing the gap even more less than 20 minutes later. Senior Colin Shockman knocked in a long ball from outside the box off of an assist from junior Samual Jarrett to bring the lead to two. However, not 25 seconds later did Ramos return to the goal area to put one in off an assist from freshman Kyle Cacoyannis.
“Mainly, we work very well as a unit and for me to be able to attack more than I defend allows me to get in spaces where I can not only create but also score goals,” Ramos said.
However, Head Coach Morgan Cathey thinks that the team’s production in the first half is something that they can improve on even more.
“Today we scored three in the first half,” Cathey said. “I think we could have scored another three in the second half if we were really clinical, but we have some amazing attacking players and we should be creating some more clear cut opportunities.”
The opportunities dwindled for the Pirates in the second half, but ultimately, they played through and finished with the one goal advantage.
“We are getting much closer to seeing how well we can play when we’re excellent on the field in every aspect,” Cathey said. “I think in the first half especially we saw how dangerous we can be when we’re in the game from the start and when we bring everything we can.”
The men’s soccer team now looks towards conference play and the challenges that await, but Cathey thinks they are ready.
“For us it’s learning from the non-conference games which we have done a lot,” Cathey said. “We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and we know now that step one is behind us and step two for us really is our conference schedule which is within our control to win and go to the NCAA tournament.”
The Pirates take on the Linfield Wildcats this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the Pine Bowl.