Corban, Ranked #21 in NAIA, Edges Bearcats, 2-1, on Goal with WU Short-handed

Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS)
Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Armando Lopez scored a goal at 67:59 for Corban University to break a 1-1 tie and send the Warriors to a 2-1 win over Willamette Univesity in a battle of crosstown rivals on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Sparks Field. The winning goal was scored about 17 minutes after Willamette was reduced to 10 men on the field when Yuta Suga was ejected following his second yellow card infraction.

The resulting red card left the Bearcats 10 versus 11 for the final 38:47 of the game. Even so, Willamette continued to battle hard and created several scoring chances. After frequently preventing Corban from gaining control inside Willamette's defensive penalty area for most of the game, the Bearcats saw Jesse Martin of Corban take the ball to the end line and pass to Lopez for the deciding goal.

Corban, a member of the Cascade Collegiate Conference, is ranked #21 in the NAIA Men's Soccer Preseason Poll. The Warriors improved to 3-0 on the season. The Bearcats, who compete in NCAA Division III and the Northwest Conference, fell to 1-1.

Willamette took a 1-0 lead just 7:00 into the game, when Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) stole a pass from Corban starting goalkeeper Marcos Ochoa about 30 yards from goal. Ballenger shot from 25 yards, sending the ball into the lower right corner of the goal.

The Warriors had a chance to tie the game at 19:15 when a penalty kick was awarded to Corban for a foul by Willamette in the penalty area. Levan Zhividze took the shot, which was saved by WU goalie Mason Kelliher (Jr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) on a deflection that went wide of the goal and out of bounds.

Less than two minutes later, Kohl Hurtado scored a goal for Corban at 21:09. He shot from 15 yards off Kelliher's hands. The score remained 1-1 for nearly 47 minutes before Lopez scored the winning goal.

Willamette created five chances to earn a tying goal in the closing minutes. Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) headed the ball just over the crossbar at 83:59. The Bearcats earned their last four shots in the final 2:16. Omar Dominguez Pascasio (So., M/D, Madras, OR/Madras HS) earned a header at 87:44 that was saved by Jordan Salim, who played the second half in goal for the Warriors.

At 88:06, Berner-Hays earned a shot only to have his attempt blocked by a Corban player. Forty-three seconds later, Quinn Mello-Bastida (Sr., F, San Jose, CA/Valley Christian HS/U. of Portland) took a shot for Wilamette that went wide left. Both shots followed corner kicks by the Bearcats. Ballenger shot from a difficult angle just before the buzzer sounded, but Salim recorded a save.

The Bearcats, who were playing their second game in as many days, outshot the Warriors 13-10 during the match, but Corban held a 9-4 margin in shots on goal. Kelliher registered seven saves for the Bearcats. Ochoa earned one save and Salim recorded two saves for the Warriors. Willamette claimed a 3-1 edge in corner kicks.

"It is very early in the season for us," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "We were very impressed with the battle-tested mentality our guys put up tonight. We always say we control the effort, not the results. It did not go our way tonight, but to play a man down for about 40 minutes and outshoot a team that is nationally ranked says something about our guys. We have to move on and learn from this and clean up our mistakes, but we know we can be a lot better as well. I'm proud of the group and the captains."

A crowd of 600 fans watched the game. At halftime, they looked on as Willamette presented co-championship rings to the 2017 Bearcat men's soccer players and coaches in honor of their share of the NWC title last season. Willamette also received the NWC's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament last season before falling to University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in a tight first round match-up.

Up next for Willamette is a road game at University of California, Santa Cruz on Thursday, Sept. 6. Game time is set for 4 p.m. (PDT).