Lutes Win Battle with Bearcats, 2-1, as Ballenger Scores for Willamette

Nicholas Ballenger (Sr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS/Oregon State Univ.)
Nicholas Ballenger (Sr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS/Oregon State Univ.)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Two of the top teams in the Northwest Conference met at Sparks Field on Saturday, Oct. 19, and the game was close, featuring strong play from both teams. Pacific Lutheran University edged Willamette University, 2-1, as the Lutes remained undefeated in the NWC at 6-0-2, while improving to 9-3-2 overall. Willamette slipped to 7-3-3 on the season, 4-3-1 in the NWC.

Willamette and Pacific Lutheran tied 1-1 in two overtimes on Oct. 6 in Tacoma, Washington, as the Bearcats gave the Lutes their first non-win in conference play this season. In the rematch, both teams challenged for possession all over the field, with neither team allowing many high-quality scoring chances.

"It was a tough result for us today, as I thought there were long stretches that we played very well. PLU was very good defensively, and put away their good chances. That was the difference today."
— Willamette Head Coach Jared Rust

The first half was almost completed when PLU scored the first goal at 43:11 on a shot by Dane Helle. The play began with a throw-in on the right side by Robby Guyer. The throw was flicked on by Archie Caldwell from just outside the top and right edge of the six-yard box. After the ball bounced in the middle of the goalie box, Helle kicked in a half-volley into the net from three yards out. In addition to holding a 1-0 lead, the Lutes owned a 7-2 advantage in total shots at halftime.

Nicholas Ballenger (Sr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS/Oregon State Univ.) of Willamette tied the score at 1-1 with his team-leading sixth goal of the season just 2:49 in to the second half. Ballenger ran into the box as Yushiro Shiomi (So., D, Kyoto, Japan/TIUA) was moving toward the end line near the left edge of the penalty area. Shiomi crossed the ball with pace on the ground, and Ballenger met the ball about five yards from the center of the goal and redirected the ball back to the left and into the goal.

Willamette had another chance to score at 50:50 when a shot by Ryan Sato (So., MF, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS) was saved by PLU goalkeeper Cole Weaver. Zak Gregg shot for the Lutes at 51:57, but WU goalie Mason Kelliher (Sr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) earned a save on the play.

Jackson Moore scored the winning goal for the Lutes about 11 minutes later at 58:14. Moore took a shot from 21 yards that looped into the upper left corner of the net. Zachary Manao received an assist on the play.

Willamette registered seven shots in the final 25 minutes, as the Bearcats went after a game-tying goal. Two of the shots were on target and four others were blocked by Pacific Lutheran defenders inside the 18-yard box.

Ballanger shot at 68:15 as he forced Weaver to make a save. About two minutes later, Max Berner-Hays (Jr., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS), Shiomi and Phil Doherty (So., MF, Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) each shot for the Bearcats in a 24-second span, but all three attempts were blocked. Josh Schneider (So., F, Washoughal, WA/Camas HS) took a shot for WU at 81:22, but Weaver recorded an easy save.

PLU ended the game with a slim 13-11 advantage in total shots. Each team finished with four shots on goal. Weaver was credited with three saves, while Kelliher made two saves for the Bearcats.

The Bearcats will be at Sparks Field again on Sunday (Oct. 20), when they will host the University of Puget Sound. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.