Bearcats Defeat Pirates, 2-0, Clinch at Least Third Place in NWC

Grainger and Wilson Net Goals, Skelly Earns Two Assists

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University broke open a scoreless game with two goals in the final 24 minutes, as the Bearcats picked up a key Northwest Conference victory, 2-0, over visiting Whitworth University on Friday, Nov. 4 at Sparks Field. Maddy Grainger (Jr., MF/D, Salt Lake City, UT/West HS) and Ariel Wilson (Jr., MF, Fort Collins, CO/Poudre HS) scored the goals for Willamette.

Stephanie Skelly (Sr., MF, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap High School), the Bearcats' leading scorer for the season, set up both goals with highly effective crossing passes. She increased her overall season scoring to 15 goals and 5 assists for 35 points.

Willamette upped its overall record to 11-7-1 on the season, 10-4-1 (31 points) in the NWC. Whitworth dropped to 8-6-4 overall, 8-4-4 (28 points) in the NWC.

On the first goal, Skelly crossed the ball into the six-yard box with a pass from outside the penalty area on the right side of the field. The ball went over the hands of Whitworth goalkeeper Callie Bergstrom toward Grainger, who was just two yards out near the left post. Grainger headed the ball straight into the net at 66:35.

The Bearcats produced an insurance goal at 86:04. This time Skelly gained control of the ball on the left side near the Whitworth end line following a throw-in. She sent a crossing pass toward the near post. Wilson bent down for a low header and redirected the ball across the goal into the right side of the net.

Willamette goalie Gina Barbieri (Fr., Medford, OR/St. Mary's School) registered four assists to earn the shutout. The most critical saves occurred with Willamette leading 1-0.

At 72:44, Jackie Day took a corner kick for the Pirates. The ball was whipped into the goalie box and had enough spin to go into the goal, but Barbieri got in front of the ball to deflect it in front of the net. The ball went off several players around the goal, but the Pirates were unable to get a follow shot.

With just over 10 minutes left in regulation at 79:49, Day took another dangerous corner kick. She sent the ball into the center of the penalty area about nine yards out. A first-time rising shot by Alex Fraser was saved by Barbieri, who reached above her head to grab the ball.

Whitworth held a 4-3 edge in shots on goal, but the Bearcats turned two shots into goals. Bergstrom finished with one save. The Pirates owned a 12-10 advantage in total shots and a 7-2 margin in corner kicks.

Even so, Willamette had better possession for most of the first half. After Whitworth gained an edge in offensive possession during the first 20-25 minutes of the second half, the Bearcats regained their form. The goal by Grainger appeared to uplift Willamette as well, providing the Bearcats with momentum to maintain the lead.

The first half ended 0-0, with Willamette holding a 5-3 margin in total shots. Neither team put a shot on target in the first 45 minutes.

In addition to earning two assists, Skelly led all players with three total shots during the game. Four players -- Day, Allie Smith, Cory Druffel and Mackenzie Grow -- each took two shots for Whitworth.

Willamette will conclude the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 5, when the Bearcats host Whitman College at Sparks Field. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).

NWC Update

The Bearcats need a win over the Missionaries, plus a loss or tie by Linfield College against Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday in order to tie for second or take second place outright. Linfield is currently 10-2-3 in the NWC for 33 points, two more than the Bearcats.

University of Puget Sound holds first place in the NWC at 11-2-2 (35 points), but has not yet clinched the title, although only Linfield can catch the Loggers.

Whitworth's season has been completed. The Pirates have clinched at least a tie for fourth place in the conference.

Willamette University 2
Whitworth University 0
Ariel Wilson scored Willamette's second goal.

Ariel Wilson scored Willamette's second goal.