Berriman and Snyder strike late to take wins for the Pirates
The Whitworth men’s soccer team went to 2-0 in Northwest Conference play after defeating the Willamette University Bearcats and Linfield College Wildcats at home last weekend. It was the first pair of conference games for the Pirates, who are now 4-2 overall after going 2-2 in non-conference play.
Rainy skies and wet field conditions met the Pirates for Saturday’s win against the Bearcats. Neither team was able to establish a rhythm in the early part of the match and the Pirates struggled to direct passes and maintain control of the ball. The Pirates were held to no goals in the first half of play and fell behind 1-0 after the Bearcats scored in the 41st minute of action.
The Pirates opened the second half with a desire to push the ball and play at a faster, more aggressive pace. The team made a few significant adjustments at the break to accommodate the field conditions and reduce the impact of the weather.
“We thought we’d get [the ball] out, but they would win it and balls over the top today didn’t work,” junior midfielder Jonah Snyder said. “So we had to find a way to get it in behind without just booting it over.”
Although they trailed for most of the game, the Pirates finally got on the scoreboard to tie the game at 1-1 in the 74th minute. Junior forward Moi Diaz, who transferred from Linfield this year, scored the late goal with the assist from sophomore midfielder Christian Haas.
With just over two minutes left in the game, senior forward Rylan Berriman scored a second goal to secure the win.
Despite outshooting the Wildcats 17-6, an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal, and 7-4 edge in corner kicks, some of the Pirates felt that the team could have done more to put the game away earlier.
“Success isn’t in the result,” junior midfielder Eric Espinoza said. “As you can see we won, but it wasn’t necessarily successful, because we didn’t play extremely well.”
Espinoza was hesitant to place any blame on the weather and said it was due to a lack of communication and errors in reading the opponent.
“There were a lot of times in this game where they had a high line, which means that defenders were closer to half-field, creating more space in behind,” Espinoza said. “If we had noticed that earlier we would have had a lot more opportunities to score.”
The team’s mood, as well as the weather, lightened on Sunday against Linfield, when they enjoyed sunshine and blue sky. The game, however, proved to be just as challenging for the Pirates, although they won 1-0 against the Wildcats.
The Pirates got off to an intense start, firing seven shots on goal and six corner kicks in the first half of play. The Wildcats defense held strong, not allowing a single score.
Both teams played hard all game and it appeared that the two teams had fought to a scoreless tie until Snyder scored in the 87th minute to seal the deal for Whitworth.
The Pirates outlasted the Wildcats and finished with 28 total shots, 10 shots on goal, and seven corner kicks compared to Linfield’s eight total shots and one corner kick.
Pirates head coach Morgan Cathey attributes the team’s strong finish to their depth of talented players and believes it will help them succeed throughout the season.
“We want our players to be fresh and to be able to wear down the opponent,” Cathey said. “Both of our games were decided right at the end.”
Next weekend the Pirates will travel to Tacoma to take on the University of Puget Sound Loggers and Pacific Lutheran University Lutes.