After 14 victories, three ties and one loss, the Whitworth men’s soccer team closed out their 2014 regular season with their 15th win. With a final score of 3-0 against Whitman, the men secured their fifth NWC title in the last eight years. “The whole week coming into this game, we knew what had to be done, what our mission was, what our job was: Our determination and our discipline to go out there and get what [was] ours,” freshman midfielder Kash Choudhary said. “We came in with hunger. This [was] our time and nobody could take it from us.”
Freshman forward Eric Espinoza gave the Pirates a lead off of a rebound from senior forward Michael Ramos in the 24th minute of the game.
“The changing formation allowed our offense to stay higher,” Espinoza said. “For my role, I needed to not just fly up, meaning not just run to score, so I was lucky enough to get a rebound to make the goal go in.”
Senior midfielder Tyler Clarke doubled the score for the Pirates when the ball crossed from the left to the right side of the net, volleyed into the goal and found the back of the net in the 32nd minute.
The final goal found the back of the net on the 69th minute by Choudhary with his third goal of the season off of a rebound from junior defender Spencer Wolfe, for his third assist of the season.
“After watching the film from the last time we played this team, we decided to add wingers into our formation and go with three forwards,” Choudhary said. “We also tried to make the field as wide as possible and depended a lot on our midfielders for this. This way we were able to exploit spaces that opened up on the field. Now we continue to grind on to the next game at [the national tournament] with a hard week of training.”
As the Pirates enter the national tournament next weekend with a one-loss elimination format, they need to be prepared, sharp and patient, Choudhary said.
“[Head Coach Morgan Cathey] mentioned [the championship] a lot and that we as a team have been working for a year to put ourselves in the best position to win [conference] and continue on to play-offs,” freshman goalkeeper Tony Watters said. “[Last Saturday’s game] was an incredible experience and it was the best soccer of the year because we played the Whitworth style, the Whitworth way: possessing the ball and being in control of the game.”
The Pirates outshot the Missionaries 20-9 with two equal corner opportunities.
Watters made three saves for the Pirates’ sixth shutout.
“We played with a solid defense. We had three in the back tracking the attacking forwards and a lot of it was what the guys were doing in front of me,” Watters said.
“I think we are playing good soccer at the moment. We scored quite a bit of goals in the past five games,” Cathey said. “We’re strong, fit and healthy, and we are in the right position going into the national tournament.”