By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director
SALEM, Ore. -- In a match-up between the top two men's soccer teams in the Northwest Conference a year ago, Whitworth University and Willamette University battled at Sparks Field on Saturday, Sept. 19 at part of the Bearcats' Alumni Weekend/Homecoming. Whitworth slipped past the Bearcats, 1-0, on a goal by Karl Muelheims with just under 30 minutes left in the game.
The game was this year's NWC opener for both teams. Whitworth remained undefeated on the season at 5-0, and moved to 1-0 in the NWC. Willamette went to 1-4-1 on the season, 0-1 in the NWC. Three of Willamette's four losses have been by a single goal.
Last year, Whitworth won the NWC title with a 10-1-3 conference record (33 points). Willamette finished in second place, just one point behind the Pirates, as the Bearcats achieved a 10-2-2 NWC mark (32 points).
On Saturday, the teams played a scoreless first half. Muelheims scored the game's only goal at 60:27 in the second half on a 7-yard shot to the top center of the goal. The score, Muelheims' sixth goal of the season, was unassisted.
Willamette outshot the Pirates, 13-11, with a 10-6 advantage in the second half. Each team placed seven shots on goal. Jack Elton (Jr., D, Corte Madera, CA/Redwood HS) and Yazan Hishmeh (Sr., F, Ventura, CA/Saint Bonaventure HS) both took four shots for the Bearcats. Willamette gained a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.
WU almost took an early lead when Hishmeh hit the post with a shot just 2:57 into the game.
Early chances continued for both teams. Muelheims forced WU goalie Braydon Calder (Sr., GK, Philomath, OR/Philomath HS) to make a save at 4:18 and Diego Ochoa (Fr., F, Coronado, CA/Coronado HS) of Willamette sent in a shot that goalie Timmy Costa saved at 6:38. Calder stopped a shot by Eric Espinoza at 8:29.
Despite the opportunities created by both sides in the first minutes, the match went to the halftime break without a goal. Just four of the game's 14 shots on goal were taken in the first 45 minutes.
Calder ended the game with three saves for the Bearcats. Costa registered two saves on his way to earning the shutout.
The teams combined for 28 fouls during the game. A total of six yellow cards were issued.
Willamette will play at home again on Sunday, Sept. 20, when they will take on Whitman College. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. (PDT).