Bearcats Upend Puget Sound, 2-1, as Skelly Scores with 21 Seconds Left

Willamette Rallies from 1-0 Deficit at Halftime

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Senior midfielder Stephanie Skelly (Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) scored two goals in the second half, including the game-winner with 21 seconds remaining, to lead the Willamette University Bearcats to a 2-1 victory over the University of Puget Sound on Sunday, Oct. 10 at Sparks Field. Willamette upped its record to 9-6-1 for the season, 8-3-1 in Northwest Conference play. UPS fell to 10-3-2 overall, 8-2-2 in the NWC.

Skelly, who also tallied two goals in Willamette's 5-1 win over Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, has now scored 13 goals this season. She has provided WU with 32 goals during her career.

The win was the Bearcats' first over Puget Sound since Sept. 24, 2006, when Willamette downed the Loggers, 3-0, at Sparks Field. In 2010, Willamette tied the Loggers, 1-1, in Salem, with Skelly scoring Willamette's goal less than four minutes into the game.

On Sunday, Puget Sound recorded the game's first goal at 17:10 on a shot by Robin Vieira. The goal completed a sequence of two shots, as Jenny Moore began the play with a shot that was saved by WU goalie Gina Barbieri (Fr., Medford, OR/St. Mary's School) . Vieira ran onto the rebound and shot the ball from six yard into the lower right corner. UPS remained in front 1-0 at halftime.

Both teams took five shots in the first half, but Willamette claimed a 6-2 shooting advantage over the final 45 minutes.

The extra offensive effort paid off at 57:01 with the tying goal by Skelly. Andi Rowan (Jr., MF, Boise, ID/Timberline HS) set up the goal with a crossing pass from the right side. Skelly volleyed the ball into the net.

For nearly all the remaining nearly 33 minutes left in the second half, the score stayed 1-1. UPS earned a corner kick with 2:28 remaining, but the Loggers were unable to get a shot as Willamette cleared the ball.

With the game inside the final minute of regulation and overtime approaching, the Bearcats launched a decisive counter-attack.

Ashland Bernard (Fr., F, Kirkland, WA/Juanita HS) received the ball near midfield and began moving forward. She passed the ball up the field and about 10 yards inside the sideline. Skelly received the pass at full speed, gradually angled toward the goal with a UPS player defending and shot from nine yards into the net.

Skelly's last-minute heroics resulted in her fifth two-goal effort in Willamette's last nine games.

Willamette achieved an overall shooting margin of 11-7 over the Loggers. WU took seven shots on goal, while UPS managed just three shots on target. The Loggers attained an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Barbieri registered two saves -- both in the first half - to record the win. She improved to 5-0-1 on the season. Puget Sound goalie Kara Merfield contributed five saves -- four in the second half -- while losing for the first time this year (7-1-2).

The win by Willamette, coupled with Puget Sound's 1-0 win at Linfield College on Saturday, and a 0-0 tie in two overtimes between Whitworth University and Pacific University on Sunday, left a log-jam at the top of the NWC standings.

Puget Sound and Linfield are both 8-2-2 with 26 points (3 for each win, 1 for each tie). Willamette at 8-3-1 and Whitworth at 7-2-4 are tied just one point behind the leaders with 25 points. Willamette has a game in hand, since the Pirates have played 13 conference games, while WU, Linfield and UPS have played 12 games each.

In the NCAA Division III West Region Rankings, Linfield is #4, Puget Sound is #5, Whitworth is #9 and Willamette is #10.

Willamette's next game is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29 at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. Game time is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 2
University of Puget Sound 1
Stephanie Skelly registered two goals, including the game-winner with 21 seconds remaining.

Stephanie Skelly registered two goals, including the game-winner with 21 seconds remaining.