Mello-Bastida's Free Kick Goal Equalizes for Bearcats in 1-1 Tie at Whitman

Quinn Mello-Bastida (Sr., M, San Jose, CA/Valley Christian HS/U. of Portland)
Quinn Mello-Bastida (Sr., M, San Jose, CA/Valley Christian HS/U. of Portland)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Quinn Mello-Bastida (Jr., M, San Jose, CA/Valley Christian HS/U. of Portland) of Willamette University scored an impressive goal on a direct free kick to tie the score at 1-1 about 11 minutes into the second half against Whitman College, and the Bearcats maintained the tie against the Blues in a Northwest Conference game on Sunday, Oct. 1. The Bearcats, who trailed 1-0 after Whitman's Peter Stephens scored less than 16 minutes into the game, used Mello-Bastida's goal to finish their seventh consecutive game without a loss. The teams played two 10-minute overtime periods before the game ended in a tie.

Willamette advanced its record to 6-3-1 on the season, and remained in first place in the NWC at 5-0-1. The Bearcats are 6-0-1 in their last seven games. Whitman moved to 4-6-1 overall and to 3-2-1 in the NWC.

"I'm very proud of this collective group," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "Not every day do you play your best soccer, but knowing how to get points on the road is an art that this young team is mastering."

The Bearcats picked up four points in the NWC standings during their weekend trip to the State of Washington. On Saturday, Willamette defeated Whitworth University, 3-1, in Spokane. Willamette has 16 points in the NWC standings, four more than University of Puget Sound in second place with 12 (4-2-0 record). Whitman and Pacific Lutheran University are tied for third place with 10 points.

Mello-Bastida scored on a direct free kick taken just outside the penalty area near the top left corner of the box. His shot cleared Whitman's defensive wall and went into the net at 55:58. It was Mello-Bastida's first goal of the season. A total of seven players have scored Willamette's 13 goals this season.

Whitman received the game's first goal from Stephens at 15:30 on the Blues' fourth shot of the game. Gabe Jacobson earned an assist on the play. Nicholas Ballenger (So., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) of Willamette missed wide right on a shot just 26 seconds later.

The Blues outshot the Bearcats 8-2 in the first half, including 4-0 in shots on goal. In the second half, Whitman earned a 9-1 edge in shots, but only two of Whitman's shots were on target, while Mello-Bastida scored on Willamette's only attempt. The Bearcats played solid defense in the penalty area during the second half, and cleared the ball away from the goal line when a well-placed free kick reached the ground near the left post.

During the overtime periods, Whitman took three shots and the Bearcats achieved two shots. In the first extra session, Eric Keefe (Jr., M, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) forced a save by goalie Owen Davis-Bower of Whitman on a shot at 95:00. Noah Cavanaugh missed high on a shot for the Blues at 96:57 and Alan Hernandez (Sr., F, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS) of Willamette took a shot that Davis-Bower saved at 98:32.

Willamette goalie Marco Gonzalez-Yanez (Jr., GK, Portland, OR/Central Catholic HS/U. of Portland) saved a shot by Ben Freedman just 22 seconds into the second overtime. A header by Stephens went wide left of Willamette's goal at 101:27. Davis-Bower had to stop a deflection off a Whitman defender to prevent an own goal at 104:56.

For the game, Whitman held a 20-5 advantage in total shots, but the Blues owned a much smaller 7-4 edge in shots on goal. The Blues also earned a 7-1 margin in corner kicks, including three in the first overtime and two in the second overtime. Mello-Bastida finished with five saves for the Bearcats, while Davis-Bower was credited with three saves for the Blues.

The Bearcats will play four of their next five games at home, starting with a matchup against archrival Linfield College on Saturday, Oct. 7 as part of Family Weekend. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT).