By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Maxwell McKee (Sr., M, Coronado, CA/Coronado HS) of Willamette University scored the winning goal with 1:31 left in the first sudden-death overtime period to complete a miraculous rally by the Bearcats in a 4-3 victory over Wisconsin Lutheran College on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Sparks Field. McKee registered the decisive goal on a header from three yards out following a corner kick by Ryan Sato (Fr., F, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS) and a header by Max Berner-Hays.
Willamette improved to 3-1-1 after playing its third game in four days and fifth game in 10 days. Wisconsin Lutheran, playing for the second day in a row, fell to 1-3-0.
The Bearcats trailed 1-0 at halftime and 3-0 in the second half, but rallied by scoring three goals in the final 20:01 of regulation to force overtime. It helped that Wisconsin Lutheran gained its lead against much of the run of play with two goals resulting from counter-attacks and one following a defensive turnover by the Bearcats.
Willamette finished the game with a 41-14 advantage in total shots and an 18-7 edge in shots on goal. WU also earned 16 corner kicks, while conceding only six corner kicks to the Warriors.
"I was shown lots of character today by this team," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "We made a lot of unforced errors today ... partly because of fatigue from lots of games and partly due to new bodies in the lineup. But all 30 guys on this team were needed to dig ourselves out from the hole. It is a great feeling to know walking into conference play next week that you can fight your way back from a bad start."
Jason Cano of Wisconsin Lutheran earned the game's first goal late in the first half at 42:09 on a shot from 15 yards to the lower right corner of the goal. His shot was set up by a through pass from Juan Serna on a fast break. Willamette held a 14-7 lead in overall shots and a 6-4 margin in shots on goal at the break.
Even so, the Warriors could have taken an early 1-0 lead, but failed two score at the end of a five-on-two counter-attack. The Warriors did manage three quick shots at the end of the play. A shot by Noah Hernandez at 5:54 was saved by WU starting goalkeeper Anthony Richard-Bassett (So., GK, Salem, OR/South Salem HS). Jason Canot took the second shot, but it was blocked by a defender. Victor Ramirez added another follow shot, but Richard-Bassett recorded a save.
The Warriors went up by two goals when Alex Rivera stole the ball from Richard-Bassett about 32 yards out, then dribbled into the box and shot into an empty net at 46:52. Cano added his second goal of the game on a penalty kick at 58:31 following a foul by Willamette in the penalty area. The penalty shot gave WLC a 3-0 lead.
Willamette still trailed by three goals until Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) put the Bearcats on the scoreboard at 69:59. Ballenger scored on a header from four yards into the upper right corner after a cross from the left side by Quinn Mello-Bastida (Sr., F, San Jose, CA/Valley ChristianHS/U. of Portland).
The Bearcats outhsot the Warriors 5-1 over the next several minutes, ultimately scoring on a header from six yards by Tam Proctor (Fr., D, Seattle, WA/The Northwest School) after a throw-in by Joe Plaster (Sr., D, San Diego, CA/University City HS). Plaster was credited with an assist on the play at 76:31.
Less than a minute later at 77:22, the Bearcats tied the score at 3-3 on a goal by Berner-Hays on a header from six yards following a long pass from Proctor. Willamette almost won the game near the end of regulation when a shot by Jack Moothart (So., M, West Linn/West Linn HS) was saved by WLC goalkeeper Erek Lehnen at 89:48.
Bearats Outshoot Warriors in Overtime
WU outshot the Warriors 6-1 in the overtime period, but Wisconsin Lutheran had the first chance to score, as Cano's shot at 93:09 was saved by Mason Kelliher (Jr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College). Kelliher played the final 39:58 in goal for the Bearcats after WLC took a three-goal lead.
Moothart had a shot for Willmette that was blocked at 94:02, a shot by Shotaro Fukami (So., D, Ebina, Japan/Asahi) was saved by Lehnen at 95:08, and Sato took a follow shot that was blocked at 96:03. Ballenger blasted a shot that was saved by Lehnen at 98:01, setting up the game-winning corner kick.
Sato sent the kick toward the far post and about eight yards out. Berner-Hays headed the ball back toward the left post. It went off the head of a WLC defender but continued staight on its course toward McKee, who headed the ball into the net.
The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference action on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Pacific Lutheran University. Game time in Tacoma, Washington, is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).