Whitman College men win sixth straight soccer game

The Missionaries top Whitworth, 2-1, in NWC action Saturday.

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WALLA WALLA - Winning a school record sixth straight game, Whitman College's men's soccer team clipped visiting Whitworth 2-1 Saturday afternoon to nail down second place in the final Northwest Conference standings.

Whitman finished its season with a flourish, winning seven of its last eight games with the eighth contest ending in a 1-1 double-overtime tie.

In beating Whitworth for the second time this season, Whitman ran its final conference record to 9-3-2 (11-6-3 overall).

The Missionaries started the day with a shot at a share of the conference title, but they needed first-place Pacific to lose its finale to winless George Fox, and that didn't happen.

Pacific bounced the Bruins 4-0 to take sole possession of the NWC title, finishing with a 10-2-2 conference record.

Whitman's victory over Whitworth, coupled with Pacific Lutheran's 2-1 loss to Puget Sound, moved the Missionaries into the runner-up spot.

The Whitman men placed second two seasons ago. After losing several seniors from that club to graduation, the Missionaries slipped all the way to seventh last fall.

Saturday's loss dropped Whitworth (7-5-2 NWC, 10-6-2) into fifth place in the final standings. Puget Sound finished fourth.

Whitman knocked Whitworth onto its heels by heading home a pair of goals in the first 32 minutes of play.

The first strike came early in the 15th minute when Jed Jacobson drove a long, low liner into the box from the right side of the field. A streaking Conner Bottomly met the ball on the left side of the box, heading it into the right corner of the net.

Whitman's second goal in the 32nd minute came in remarkably similar fashion with Jacobson again driving a cross from from the right side to the far post. This time it was Sam Freedman crashing into the box to knock a ball just off the inside of the right post and back into the net.

The two-goal advantage for the Missionaries didn't last long.

Less than eight minutes later, Whitworth's Travis Gutierrez scored off passes from Michael VanDenBerg and Justin Mikkola to slice Whitman's lead to 2-1.

Neither side scored in a second half that saw both teams take eight shots.

Early in the second half, Freedman got around the left corner only to see his shot stopped by Whitworth keeper Brian Sherpa. A few minutes later Whitman keeper Michael Bathurst picked Nate Spangler's hard shot out of the air.

Bathurst, who made four of his six saves in the second half, knocked down a hard shot from Gutierrez with about 16 minutes left to play.

Both Freedman and Bottomly, a senior, finished the season with eight goals.

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