By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Willamette University won many individual battles on defense, in the midfield and on offense. The result was that the Bearcats shut out Pacific University, 3-0, on Friday, Sept. 22 at Ledbetter Field. Willamette's goals were scored by Liam Main (Sr., F, San Francisco, CA/Marin Academy) in the first half, and by Mack van der Velde and Alan Hernandez (Sr., F, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS) in the second half. With its fourth consecutive win, WU improved to 4-3 overall, 3-0 in the Northwest Conference. Pacific fell to 4-3 on the season, 1-2 in the NWC.
Main scored the game's first goal at 30:52 on a shot from six yards following a cross by Hernandez from the right side. The goal was scored on a counter-attack that began with a run out of the back by Sodai Takayanagi (So., D, Moriokashi, Japan/Moriokakita). As Takayanagi neared center line, he passed the ball into the middle of the field and it was eventually played out wide once again to Hernandez.
Opportunities were kept to a minimum in the first half. Michael McLeod of Pacific took a 25-yard shot at 13:36 that sailed just to the left of the goal. At 26:30, Max Berner-Hays (Fr., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) of Willamette shot, but his attempt went over the goal. Pacific had two shots and Willamette had four shots in the first half, with each team recording one shot on goal.
Willamette remained in front for more than 25 minutes into the second half. At 63:40, Nicholas Ballenger (So., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) took a shot that was blocked and led to WU's only corner kick of the game. Nearly six minutes later at 69:39, Ballenger sent a shot over the goal. Matt Kimball of Pacific had a shot blocked by the Bearcats at 70:39.
It was less than three minutes later, that Willamette extended its lead to 2-0. The play began with a length flip-throw by Quinn Wagner (So., D, Castle Pines, CO/Kent Denver School) on a left-side throw-in. Goalkeeper Jack Orum of Pacific went toward the top of the six-yard box to catch the ball, but only knocked it down. Willamette's van der Velde was right there to redirect the loose ball into the net with a half-volley.
The Bearcats completed the scoring on a break-away goal by Hernandez. Ballinger had possession a few yards onto Willamette's side of midfield. He sent a through pass that eluded the Pacific defense. Hernandez ran onto the ball four 40 yards from goal and beat Orum one-on-one from about 10 yards out. Ballenger earned an assist on the play.
"I am very proud of our group tonight," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "Our players stuck true to our belief in what we do. When we stay true to ourselves and play our composed game, good things happen."
Pacific ended the game with an 8-6 advantage in total shots and a 5-1 lead in corner kicks, but Willamette held a 3-2 edge in shots on goal. Starting goalkeeper Marco Gonzalez-Yanez (Jr., GK, Portland, OR/Central Catholic HS/U. of Portland) made two saves over the first 87:54 of the match. Quinn Nottage (Sr., GK, Portland, OR/Franklin HS) shared the shutout after playing the final 2:06.
Willamette's efforts in the midfield really made a difference in the match. In fact, Bearcat players kept pressure on the ball over most of the field, especially in the midfield and on defense. When a Boxer made a successful lmove upfield, there was usually another Bearcat player ready to apply pressure.
The Bearcats will host George Fox University at Sparks Field on Sunday, Sept. 24. Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. (PDT). The Bruins shut out Linfield, 2-0, in Newberg, Oregon, on Friday night.