By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Willamette University rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to defeat visiting Northwest Christian University (Ore.), 2-1, in two overtimes on Friday, Sept. 1 in the Bearcats' season opener at Sparks Field. Willamette moved to 1-0, while NCU dropped to 0-2 on the season. Meagan Lau (Sr./Fr., M, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) of Willamette scored the winning goal from 15 yards with 7:58 left in the second overtime.
The game's first goal was recorded by Gianna Rains of Northwest Christian at 20:01. The play began a bit earlier when Maggie McCausland of NCU intercepted a pass at Willamette' defensive end of the field. McCausland took a shot from 23-yard out on the right side, but it was blocked near the top of the penalty area and bounced across the field. Moments later, Rains had the ball on the left side and shot from about 18 yards into the net. The Beacons oushot the Bearcats 6-2 in the first half, including a 4-1 edge in shots on goal.
Kate Matthews (Jr., M, Bainbridge Island, WA/Bainbridge HS) scored early in the second half at 49:15 to tie the game for the Bearcats. She blasted a powerful shot form 16 yards that went off the hands of leaping goalkeeper Katie Hastings and landed across the goal line. Shanna Keil (So., M, Danville, CA/San Ramon Valley HS) was credited with an assist on a pass to Matthews from the ride side.
The score remained tied until Lau's game-winning goal in the second 10-minute overtime period at 102:02. WU's quality chance began when Annie Strom (So., M, Mount Vernon, WA/Mount Vernon HS) won a loose ball in the midfield and sent a through pass for Lau toward the right edge of the box. Lau ran onto the ball about 25 yards out, and shot form 15 yards into the lower left corner of the goal. An NCU defender ran alongside Lau as she went toward the goal, but couldn't prevent the shot.
"To win the season opener at home in such a dramatic fashion was exciting," Head Coach Hillary Arthur said. "Throughout the game we were just shy (close) when trying to penetrate their back line, and when it counted most Annie Strom played a perfect pass to beat the defender and set Meagan Lau up for an excellent look on goal."
The Beacats spent much of the night frustrated by Northwest Christian's defensive line. Willamette was called for six offside voilations during the game.
Even so, the Bearcats ended the night with a 16-12 advantage in total shots, while the Beacons held an 8-6 margin in shots on goal. Keil led all players with four shots for the Bearcats, while Emmy Manset (Sr., F, Ventura, CA/Foothill Technology HS) added three shots. McCausland topped NCU with three shots.
Willamette goalkeeper Kristen Barclay of Willamette registered seven saves to improve to 1-0. Hastings of Northwest Christian earned four saves for the Beacons, but fell to 0-2.
"Overall I was happy with how we played tonight," Arthur commented. "We had a lot of people contributing tonight and it's great to have that depth. Thank you to all the family, friends, students, staff and faculty for attending tonight's game. We hope to see you all again at our next home game."
The Bearcats compete in NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference. Northwest Christian is a member of the NAIA and the Cascade Collegiate Conference.