SPOKANE, WA. — (www.WhitworthPirates.com) The Whitworth men’s soccer team begins Northwest Conference play this weekend, hosting Linfield College and Willamette University following the completion of the non-conference schedule during which the Pirates were undefeated.
Live statistics and video feeds for the matches this weekend can be found on the Whitworth men’s soccer schedule. Click here for a video update from head coach Morgan Cathey, recapping the non-conference schedule and previewing the beginning of the conference slate.
Whitworth Update: Whitworth traveled to Salem, Ore., to take on the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs at the campus of Willamette last Sunday. The Pirates jumped to a 3-0 first-half lead before holding off UC Santa Cruz in the second half. Eduardo Lopez, a transfer, scored his first goal in a Pirate uniform to give Whitworth a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute. The Pirates then netted two goals within the span of a minute as Colin Shockman scored in the 22nd minute before Micheal Ramos followed with another goal less than 30 seconds later.
The Banana Slugs fought back after halftime, scoring in the 61st minute before adding a second goal in the 87th minute. But the first-half offense from the Pirates was too much to overcome. The victory marked the second-straight season the Pirates have defeated the Banana Slugs in a neutral-site match, after notching a 4-0 win last season.
Moving Up The Rankings: The Pirates jumped from No. 12 to No. 6 in the latest D3soccer.com Men’s Top 25 Poll. Whitworth also moved from No. 15 to No. 12 in the most recent NSCAA/Continental Tire Division III Men’s Soccer National Poll. The Pirates are also ranked second behind Trinity University (Texas) in the NSCAA West Poll.
Stellar Start: The 5-0-0 start to the 2014 campaign marks the first time a Whitworth men’s soccer team has started the season undefeated and without any ties since the 1992 season. The 2014 Whitworth squad is in great company with the feat, as the 1992 team finished its season 15-3 and ranked No. 15 in the final NAIA national soccer rankings.
Home Sweet Home: Whitworth plays five of its first seven conference matches at the Whitworth Soccer Field after playing four of five official non-conference matches away from home. The Pirates posted an official record of 6-0-1 at the Whitworth Soccer Field last season, outscoring their opponents 20-6 in those contests. Consequently, the Bucs will finish the 2014 regular season conference schedule by playing five of their final seven regular-season matches away from home.
Comeback Contests: Whitworth built a three-goal lead against UC Santa Cruz, but come-from-behind wins have been common in 2014. The Bucs have trailed in three of five matches this season. The team has overcome a two-goal deficit once, and has trailed at halftime in two of the three comebacks. Whitworth has outscored its opponents 9-4 after halftime.
The Coach: Head coach Morgan Cathey is in his second year at the helm for Whitworth and has compiled a 17-3-3 record during his tenure. The Pirates narrowly missed the postseason in his first season, finishing 12-3-3 overall and second in the NWC standings.
Reliable Ramos: Micheal Ramos, a transfer in his first season at Whitworth, has been a consistent performer for Pirates through the non-conference portion of the schedule. He has totaled five goals and four assists, and has at least one goal or one assist in each match this season. He has two multi-goal games, and two of his goals have been match-winners.
Previewing the ‘Cats: Whitworth took two wins from Linfield in 2013, while Willamette was the lone team in the conference from which the Pirates were unable to record a win last year. The Bearcats topped Whitworth in Salem, Ore., before coming away with a tie at the Whitworth Soccer Field.
Linfield Wildcats: Linfield went 5-8-1 in the NWC last season, finishing sixth in the standings. The Wildcats were picked to finish seventh in the standings this season. Linfield is led by third-year head coach Chuck Bechtol, and returns All-NWC honorable mention forward Brian DeGrandmont. The Wildcats also return three of their five top scorers from last season and are off to a 2-2 start in 2014.
Willamette Bearcats: Willamette concluded last season with a 6-5-3 NWC record, finishing fifth in the standings. They have been predicted to finish fourth this season and are off to a 3-3 start after non-conference action. The Bearcats are led by fourth-year head coach Lloyd Fobi and return All-NWC First Team midfielder Tyler Yates. The Bearcats also return All-NWC Second Team goalkeeper Braydon Calder and honorable mention selections Yazan Hishmeh (forward) and Sam Gonzalez (defender).
Coming Up: The Pirates will head to Oregon next weekend to take on George Fox and Pacific (Ore.) before returning home for three consecutive home matches.