Junior forward Karl Muelheims extended the Whitworth Pirates’ winning streak with the only goal of the game and his fifth of the season against the visiting Pacific Lutheran Lutes for a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon. However, Sunday’s game against previously second-ranked UPS, ended with the Pirates’ first loss of the season, 0-2. Compared to last year’s 4-1 win on Oct. 20 against the Lutes, this match proved to be a more difficult battle for the Pirates. The Bucs had to neutralize their opponents’ strengths to have more freedom to play, Head Coach Morgan Cathey said.
Though the Pirates only scored one goal, they were proud of their third shutout of the season, giving credit to the defense, assistant coach Bryan Olson said.
“Our overall team goal was to get a clean sheet: to not let them score,” Muelheims said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight before the game, that it’s going to test our will, that it’s going to test our desire.”
This clean sheet not only came from the defensive players’ uphill struggle by clearing the balls to the opposite side of the field, but also from sophomore Timmy Costa’s three saves for the Pirates.
“The focus was more on the defensive end where we thought that the offense would come naturally,” junior defender Spencer Wolfe said.
The Pirates’ offensive players outshot the Lutes 17-7 throughout the game, giving the Lutes fewer opportunities to tie or take the lead.
Muelheims’ unassisted goal from the left side of the net was scored 10 minutes into the second half when the ball was mostly played on the Whitworth offensive side.
“A lot of the things that happened in that goal was just desire. At halftime we just said that we needed some shots,” Muelheims said. “[Junior midfielder Sam Engle] tried to shoot it, but ended up popping up right to me and I kind of took a touch and it went in. We wanted it in the box more than they did.”
The Pirates took a hit on the offensive side of the ball for Sunday’s game as Muelheims was injured and senior forward Micheal Ramos was not able to play.
In addition, the Puget Sound Loggers had an early goal by senior forward Andrew White assisted by defender Sam Naatz less than 5 minutes into the first half on Sunday. As a result of the early goal for the Loggers, the Pirates had a much more difficult time maintaining control of the game.
“We didn’t come out defensively with a mindset [of] desire and passion that we did [Saturday],” Cathey said. “[Saturday] was such a good understanding of how we needed to defend, how we needed to be at our best to stop them, and [Sunday], some of our guys right from the start weren’t in the game defensively and these are defensive players.”
Senior midfielder Connor Laferriere doubled the lead for the Loggers with an unassisted goal in the 26th minute.
“The second one was just a poor pass in midfield right to their player, which didn’t even need to happen,” Cathey said. “The guys have to be sharper, the guys have to bring more and understand that they can’t let themselves get away with sleeping for just even a second, shutting off for even a second.”
The sign of a championship team is to not give anything to the opposite team for a long time, though the Pirates gave the Loggers a lot of chances in the first 15 minutes of the game, Cathey said.
“They defended like animals,” Cathey said.
Despite the score, the Pirates outshot the Loggers 19-9 and had more corner kicks 5-1.
“The great thing is now, hopefully the guys will play more freely, but also play with more desire, not feeling like they have to go undefeated the whole year, but more desire to defend and to battle with everything they have,” Cathey said.
The actions the Pirates showed in the first 20-25 minutes on the field did not represent how they prepared in practice, junior midfielder Samuel Jarrett said.
“We’re going to look at what went wrong this week at practice and look out for next week,” Jarrett said.
The Pirates dropped to 9-1-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the NWC.
Whitworth hosts Pacific Lutheran during Homecoming weekend this Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2:30 p.m.