Cleland Scores for Bearcats, but Boxers Win on Late Goal, 2-1

Sophie Cleland takes a shot for the Bearcats
Sophie Cleland (Jr., M/F, Eugene, OR/North Eugene HS)

By Charlie McGuire, Athletic Communications Assistant

SALEM, Ore. – The Willamette University women's soccer team dropped a heartbreaker at Sparks Field on Saturday, October 1, falling 2-1 to visiting Pacific University. The Boxers earned the win with a late goal in the final two minutes of regulation. Cyd Sugiyama broke a 1-1 tie from 25 yards out, slipping a shot just under the crossbar in the 89th minute.

The Bearcats had a strong start, holding possession for the better part of the opening minutes of the match. Willamette forced a corner in the eighth minute leading to an opportunity for Braeden Glaser (Jr., F, Battle Ground, WA/Prairie HS), but the shot went wide.

The Bearcats registered the first five shots of the game, putting a pair on-goal, leading to saves from first-year goalkeeper Kylie Pascual. Pacific started to create some attacking runs at the midpoint of the half and would strike first in the 30th minute.

Emily Rutkowski sent a nice through pass to Mirella Garcia, who put a touch on the ball and then hit a well-placed shot into the upper left corner to put the Boxers on the scoreboard. That marked Garcia's team-best sixth goal of the season.

The score remained 1-0 throughout the remainder of the first half. After the break, possession was relatively even with both teams creating scoring chances. The Bearcats would pull even in the 62nd minute, off the foot of junior midfielder Sophie Cleland (Eugene, OR/North Eugene HS).

Cleland gained control of the ball and moved to the top of the penalty area before finding the bottom right corner of the net to knot the game 1-1, with just over 28 minutes remaining. Willamette had another strong scoring chance just moments later, countering on a Pacific corner with sophomore Anika Firehammer (F, Minnetonka, MN/Hopkins HS) forcing a save from Pascual.

With the game appearing to be heading for a draw, the Boxers had other ideas as time was running out. Sugiyama made a strong tackle to gain possession and found enough space to send the game-winner toward the net. The ball grazed the bottom of the crossbar and across the line with 1:26 on the clock.

The match was almost dead-even on the scoresheet with each team recording 11 shots on the afternoon. Willamette forced three corners while allowing just two on the defensive end of the field.

Pascual finished with four saves on the day while Rachel Compton (Jr., GK, Lake Stevens, WA/Lake Stevens HS) and Krystal Maxey (Fy., GK, La Habra, CA/Sonora HS) combined for three saves for the Bearcats.

Pacific improved to 5-3-0 overall and 2-3 in Northwest Conference play. Willamette slipped to 4-5-0 on the season and 2-4-0 in the NWC. The Bearcats travel to Tacoma, Washington on Saturday, October 8 to face the University of Puget Sound. Opening kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).