By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Eddie Na of Pacific Lutheran University recorded the game-winning goal at 81:38, just 38 seconds after Carter McCleary (Fr., M, Port Hadlock, WA/Chimacum HS) of Willamette tied the score, and the Lutes went on to defeat the Bearcats, 2-1, in a Northwest Conference men's soccer game on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Pacific Lutheran improved to 10-4-2 on the season, 8-2-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 9-5-2 overall, 8-2-2 in the NWC. The Bearcats and the Lutes are now tied for first place in the NWC standings with two games remaining.
"It was a very good game by both teams," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Flobi noted. "I think we were unlucky to not get more in terms of a result, but our guys wee phenomenal in their mindset and approach."
Both teams had to work hard to create shots on target. The Lutes took 13 total shots, but placed just four on goal. Willamette earned 10 total shots with five shots on goal.
Each team placed three shots on target in the first half. It was Pacific Lutheran that found success late in the half, as Bennett Bugbee scored the game's first goal at 42:47. It was the final shot of the first half. Bugbee was assisted on the play by Rio Alcorta.
Omar Dominguez Pascasio (Fr., D, Madras, OR/Madras HS) took a shot for Willamette that went wide at 46:02 and Alan Hernandez (Sr., F, Tigard, OR/Tigard HS) added a shot at 49:00 that forced PLU goalkeeper RJ Noll to make a save. Prior to the tying goal, WU tacked on one more shot -- a header by Nicholas Ballenger (So., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) that went high, whle PLU took four shots.
Willamette tied the game at 81:00 on McCleary's first collegiate goal, which was set up by a pass from Joe Plaster (Jr., D, San Diego, CA/University City HS). The score by the WU freshman created a 1-1 tie, but the Lutes answered quickly to regain the lead. The winning goal followed a steal by the PLU just inside Willamette's half of the field. After the Lutes surged forward, Oni Mayer passed the ball on the right side to Na, who scored from an extremely tight angle into the next.
The Bearcats had several possessions in the final third during the closing minutes of the game, but Pacific Lutheran prevented Willamette from taking a shot.
PLU goalkeeper RJ Noll registered four saves for the Lutes. Marco Gonzalez-Yanez (Jr., GK, Portland, OR/Central Catholic HS/U. of Portland) of Willamette earned two saves.
Although the Lutes held a slim 13-10 advantage in shots, the Lutes attained a 9-2 edge in corner kicks, including a 6-1 margin in the first half. A total of 24 fouls were called over the 90 minutes of action, with 15 on Willamette and nine on Pacific Lutheran. A yellow card issued to Plaster of WU at 13:35 was the only card of the game.
The Bearcats will play in Tacoma again on Sunday (Oct. 29), as they are scheduled to take on University of Puget Sound at 2:30 p.m. (PDT). Earlier this season, the Bearcats defeated the Loggers, 1-0, in Salem, Oregon, on Sept. 16.