Bearcats Trail 2-0, but Rally for 4-2 Win over Pioneers

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

PORTLAND, ORE. -- It took the Willamette University Bearcats a little while to adjust to the AstroTurf 12 playing surface at Griswold Stadium in their women's soccer game with Lewis & Clark College on Sunday, Oct. 26. The Pioneers took advantage of WU's early difficulties to build a 2-0 first half lead. The Bearcats adjusted and gradually gained control, tying the game just before halftime and scoring twice in the second half for a 4-2 victory.

Willamette improved to 10-6 on the season, including 8-4 in the Northwest Conference. Lewis & Clark fell to 4-8-4 overall, 3-8-1 in conference play.

The FieldTurf at Willamette's home facility, Sparks Field in Salem, Ore., plays much like natural grass, although the ball often travels faster. The turf at Griswold Stadium caused passes to surge past their intended targets and created many bouncing balls, which were difficult to track.

Normally, the Bearcats look to play the ball out of the back and gradually move upfield. Due to the playing surface on Sunday, Willamette placed a greater emphasis on lengthy passes and on winning headers in the midfield.

"We try to play possession soccer," WU Head Coach Hillary Arthur said, adding that on Sunday "we had to adjust and play a direct style. And it really, really helped when we won the headers in the midfield. I think that our ability to adjust allowed us to play well and get the result that we wanted."

By getting the win and picking up three points, Willamette moved into second place in the NWC standings. The University of Puget Sound, which defeated Whitworth University 2-0 on Sunday, is 12-0 in the NWC and has clinched at least a tie for first place with 36 points. WU is 8-4 for 24 points, and Whitworth follows in third place with a 7-4-1 record and 22 points.

Brittany Larson and Stephanie Thurin scored goals for L&C. Larson hit the net from about 18 yards just 5:28 into the game. Thurin increased L&C's lead to 2-0 at 25:20, when she scored on a header near the left post, following a free kick by Rebecca Conroy.

As the half continued, Willamette's adjustments began to pay off. Samantha Post (Sr., D/MF, Philomath, OR/Philomath HS) cut the L&C lead in half with a goal at 38:46. Post scored on a sharp-angle shot from about four yards to the left of the goal and very close to the end line.

The goal followed a lengthy free kick by Kelsey Rogel (Sr., D, Tacoma, WA/Bellarmine Prep) from about 45 yards out. Rogel's pass grazed off a defender and was pushed wide of the net by Lewis & Clark goalkeeper Kate MacDougall. Post, who was nearby, ran onto the ball and shot toward the far post before the ball could be played out of bounds. It crossed the line and went into the side netting.

Willamette registered the equalizing goal just 53 seconds before halftime on a 5-yard header by Rachel Janny (Jr., F, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS). Janny was unmarked in the box and scored off a cross from Haley Rosenthal (Jr., MF, Cheyenne, WY/Cheyenne East HS) who was near the right side line. The game was tied, 2-2, at halftime.

WU's goals in the second half were recorded by Emily Gross (Sr., F, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) and Kimber Mattox (Fr., MF, Bend, OR/Cornell University). Rogel assisted on both of the goals to finish with three assists for the game.

Rogel took a free kick from 30 yards out to earn an assist on tie-breaking goal by Gross at 55:48. Rogel's pass found Gross in the middle of the penalty area. After receiving the ball, Gross turned and shot past MacDougall.

The final goal, scored by Mattox at 86:06, also started with a free kick by Rogel. This time the kick was taken from 35 yards on the left side of the field. Mattox met up with the pass about five yards out near the left post. She headed the ball down and into the net.

"Playing the big passes, we forced the defenders to run toward their own goal. And that let us run toward the goal, too," Arthur said. "That helped us with our accuracy shooting."

Willamette finished the game with 13 shots, including 10 shots on goal. The Pioneers achieved nine shots with seven on goal, but took only one shot during the second half.

Kelli Gano (So., GK, Portland, OR/Cleveland HS) recorded three saves for Willamette, while the Bearcat defense blocked two of L&C's shots on goal. MacDougall finished with six saves for the Pioneers.

The Bearcats will play another NWC game on Saturday, Nov. 1, when they host Pacific Lutheran University. Kickoff at Sparks Field is slated for 11 a.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 4
Lewis & Clark College 2
Kelsey Rogel earned three assists in WU's 4-2 win at Lewis & Clark.

Kelsey Rogel earned three assists in WU's 4-2 win at Lewis & Clark.