Women’s Soccer Bounces Back, Beats Willamette 1-0

Quin Nelson

Hungry for their first conference win of the season, the Whitman women’s soccer team ground out a solid 1-0 victory over the Willamette Bearcats Saturday at the Whitman Soccer Complex.

The Missionaries again got off to a strong start with Whitman dominating ball possession in the first half. Whitman was able to exploit spaces outside, with senior outside back Erin Flannery getting forward for several crosses; Missionary midfielders got forward to earn six corner kicks to Willamette’s one.

The Missionaries were pounding on Willamette’s door early and often. In the tenth minute, first-year midfielder Kelsey Peck headed a corner off the underside of the crossbar, and first-year forward Clara Merlino forced Willamette keeper Nicole Price into a phenomenal tip-save off the crossbar at the end of the half.

The difference between Wednesday and Saturday for the Missionaries turned out to be their resilience and persistence in the second half. Although Willamette created some danger early in the period, Whitman regained control, forcing another acrobatic save from Price in the sixty-third minute. In the sixty-seventh minute, Merlino was fouled just outside the box, and senior midfielder Jaclyn Rudd stepped up and buried the free kick. The Whitman defense held strong for the remainder of the game, preserving the 1-0 win for the Missionaries. Junior goalkeeper Emily Davis picked up a clean sheet.

The Willamette Bearcats now drop to 1-1 in conference play and 3-3 overall. Whitman is 1-1 in the NWC and 2-4 overall. The Missionaries play Sunday at noon at the Whitman Soccer Complex against Lewis & Clark.