Whit women give Loggers a run

Puget Sound, ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division III, needs overtime before downing Whitman, 2-1.

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Whitman goalkeeper Courtney Porter (No. 7) had things get too close for comfort as Puget Sound's Jenny Moore closes in on the ball. Porter made the save on the play.

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Whitman's Corina Gabbert (at left) and Liz Forbes celebrate the Missionaries' goal to tie UPS Saturday afternoon.

WALLA WALLA — Saturday’s Northwest Conference women’s soccer match between Whitman and Puget Sound had all the makings of a one-sided affair.


The Loggers took the pitch ranked second in the latest NCAA Division III poll, leading the conference with an 8-0 record, were 11-0 overall, and had a goal disparity of 39-3 over its 2009 opponents.


By contrast, the Missionaries were in the bottom half of the league with a 3-6 mark and sported a 4-7-1 overall standing.


When the teams met three weeks ago, Puget Sound tallied five second-half goals in a 6-1 triumph.


Saturday’s contest did not come close to mirroring the Sept. 27 game, but in the end, the Loggers would prevail.


Two-time conference player of the year Janece Levien tallied her league-leading 14th goal of the season just 2:44 into overtime to give UPS a 2-1 victory.


"Each game is its own story," UPS coach Randy Hanson said. "We were fortunate to get the goals we got last time."


"We would like to have been at the other end of that game," Whitman coach Scott Shields said. "We played great, played hard."


Puget Sound, which enjoyed a 28-10 advantage in shots on the day, consistently threatened to score in the first 42 minutes of action. Melissa Abellanida set the tone early by sending a header off of a free kick wide of the mark in the fourth minute and Theresa Henle hammered a shot from 15 yards out on the left wing at the eight-minute mark.


Levien, who fired six of UPS’s 15 first-half shots, followed with wide tries from 25 yards out in minutes 10 and 11, respectively.


One of Whitman’s best chances came in the 19th minute when Corina Gabbert whistled a straight-on, 25-yard blast over the cross bar.


The Loggers broke the scoreless tie at 42:21. Mikaela Freeman played a ball from the left into the middle of the field to teammate Abby Goss, who danced passed a pair of Whitman defenders and drilled a 12-yard shot past Missionary goalie Courtney Porter for her first goal of the year.


Whitman got that marker back early in half two. A "heads-up play by DeeDee McCormick" got the ball rolling, according to Shields.


McCormick played a ball from the back to the midfield that Liz Forbes forwarded to Gabbert — who raced in on goal and ripped an in-close attempt into the back of the net at 53:46.


"That goal was fabulous," Shields said.


Puget Sound continued to pepper the Whitman net as Jenny Moore, Henle and Levien registered two shot apiece in the final 31 minutes of regulation time, but none of the opportunities crossed the goal line. Levien got a boot on a right-side free kick in the 80th minute, but sent the ball off the outside of the near post.


"It’s hard to score on some days," Hanson said. "We did a good job of putting pressure on Whitman, but not a good job of finishing."


In the overtime, Moore set up an uncovered Levien for the game-winning goal with a pass to the left side of the field. Levien lofted a left-footed ball from 20 yards out toward the far post that eluded an extended Porter.


"If you asked her, she’d be saying that she was trying to cross it," Hanson said. "We knew we were going to have a battle. Gabbert is a special player and Scott is a good coach."


"We’re upset we lost because we knew we had a chance to win," Shields said.


Whitman hosts Pacific Lutheran today at noon.

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