By Tayla MacPherson
The Puget Sound men’s soccer team faced Whitman College (Washington) and Whitworth University (Washington) the weekend of Sept. 23. Whitworth University’s team has been Northwest Conference champions the last three years, making three appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Puget Sound men have not beat Whitworth since 2014, making this game against Whitworth extremely important.
Although this game was vital for the Loggers, the Puget Sound men wanted to treat the game against Whitworth like any other conference match. Senior Nathan Otto (Portland, Oregon) describes the week of practices leading up to the two weekend games: “There are always nerves headed into any game, and I think because we were able to focus on Whitman all week instead of Whitworth, there was no extra anxiety. The past three years, it has always come down between us and Whitworth for the conference championship, so our games have almost looked even more like a rivalry than PLU.”
The Puget Sound men were nothing but excited to face Whitworth Sunday, Sept. 24, and it showed. Within the first four minutes, sophomore Dane Schatz (Kaneohe, Hawaii) scored the first goal of the match. Just 15 minutes later, Chet Selis, a senior from Portland, Oregon was able to strike a shot from 30 yards out, giving the Loggers a 2-0 lead.
Selis commented on his excitement scoring a goal against the reigning Northwest Conference champions: “No matter who it’s against, scoring a goal is always exhilarating. The goal put us ahead 2-0, and after that we were determined to score a third and put the game away for good.”
The third goal of the first half was scored by senior midfielder Benjamin Whitham (Claremont, California) from a penalty kick drawn in the 31st minute.
Even after three goals scored from the Loggers, Whitworth did not quit. The Pirates continued to battle until the end of the first half when they gained their first goal of the game in the 32nd minute. This ended the first half with a 3-1 Logger lead.
Both teams continued to battle throughout the entirety of the second half, but the Loggers fought harder. First-year student Cale Spence from Seattle, Washington put a fourth goal away for the Loggers, closing the deal.
Such a great win doesn’t come from individual success. The Loggers’ teamwork against Whitworth was unmistakable. The Puget Sound men have a love for the game that is not found on all D3 college teams.
Otto described the effort the whole team contributed to win the match: “We had a somewhat different backline against Whitworth than we had used in the past, and it was great to see Patrick step into the leftback role so comfortably. That said, our defensive success came not just from the back line, but from the fight and organization of the midfield and forwards.”
As of now, the Loggers are in second place in the Northwest Conference, behind Willamette University (Oregon).
The Puget Sound men hope to continue to play well and win games. Whitham discussed the team’s expectations for the rest of the season, saying, “Our team expectations going into the rest of the season remain the same as before; and that is to win the next game. Whether we win or lose, we don’t want the outcome of a match to reshape our goals heading forward.”
On Sept. 31 the Loggers faced Pacific University (Oregon) away and lost by one goal scored in the second half. The following day, the Loggers traveled to George Fox University (Oregon) and won by a goal from Sellis in the first half.
The Puget Sound men will travel to play cross-town rivals Pacific Lutheran University (Washington) on Oct. 7 at 2:30 p.m.