By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer
McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Willamette University's Jesse Thompson (Sr., F, Santa Ynez, CA/Santa Ynez Valley Union HS) scored a late equalizer, and Alan Hernandez (So., F, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS) scored the game-winner almost six minutes into the second overtime, as the Bearcats defeated archrival Linfield College, 3-2, in a soggy Northwest Conference men's soccer match on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The Bearcats conclude their season with a record of 6-11-2, 5-8-1 (16 points) in the NWC, and leapfrog the Wildcats into a tie for fourth place in the conference. Linfield fell to 9-11-0 on the year, 5-9-0 (15 points) in the NWC, good for sixth place.
It is the sixth time in the last seven years that Willamette has ended its season with a victory over the Wildcats. Altogether, the Bearcats are 8-2 against Linfield over the past five seasons.
Hernandez's game-winner came in the 106th minute, at the end of a sequence of sustained Willamette pressure. From the edge of the 18-yard box, Hernandez fired past Wildcat goalkeeper Jorge Rodriguez and into the back of the net.
Willamette opened the scoring in the 29th minute, when Christopher Barnes (Jr., D, Los Altos, CA/Mountain View HS) notched his first goal of the year off a cross from Tyler Yates (Sr., F, Kailua-Kona, HI/Kealakehe HS).
But the Bearcats' goal largely came against the run of play, as the Wildcats forced WU goalkeeper Braydon Calder (Sr., GK, Philomath, OR/Philomath HS) into four first-half saves. Overall, Linfield outshot Willamette 8-4 before the halftime break.
The pressure only increased in the second half, with Linfield registering three shots in the first four minutes after halftime. In the 50th minute, the Wildcats finally found their breakthrough when Ivan Colin beat Calder one-on-one to tie the score.
A 63rd minute header from Barnes forced Rodriguez to make a save, but the Wildcats continued peppering Calder's goal -- Linfield outshot Willamette 16-6 in the second half -- and a 69th minute Brian DeGrandmont score gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
But eight minutes later, a wild sequence tied the game again.
With the Bearcats forced to push forward, a Linfield foul in the box earned Willamette a penalty kick in the 77th minute. Rodriguez saved Yates's attempt from the spot, but was only able to push the ball out for a corner kick. Undeterred, Yates directed his corner straight to Thompson, who fired home his third goal of the year.
The final 13 minutes of regulation saw more fouls (10) than shots (3), as both teams tightened up defensively, but play loosened during the two overtimes, and Willamette gradually took control of the game. The Bearcats amassed six shots during the extra sessions, including Hernandez's game-winner, while the Wildcats had just one shot in the first overtime and no shots in the second.
Linfield finished the game with a 25-16 edge in total shots and an 13-7 margin in shots on goal. Both teams earned seven corner kicks.
Calder tied his career-high with 11 saves for Willamette. Rodriguez was credited with four saves for Linfield.
The match was physical, featuring five yellow cards and 46 total fouls. Three of the cards were issued to Willamette's Sam Adelman (Sr., D, Arroyo Grande, CA/Arroyo Grande HS), Sam Gonzalez (Sr., D, Junction City, OR/Junction City HS), and Liam Main (So., D, San Francisco, CA/Marin Academy). Wildcats DeGrandmont and Chris Palmer also earned cautions.