SPOKANE - A open-net goal hammered at a sharp angle by Sam Freedman in the 69th minute gave Whitman College a 1-0 Northwest Conference soccer victory over Whitworth University Saturday afternoon in Spokane, Wash.
Whitman, which had dropped seven of its last eight games to Whitworth by a single goal, evened its NWC record at 3-3-1 and climbed to 5-6-2 on the season.
Whitman worked its way to a 4-3 shot advantage and 3-0 edge in corner kicks in the first half, and then took two of the first three shots in the second stanza.
Whitman's next shot proved to be the game winner. Freedman, a junior, won a foot race to a free ball on the left side of the box and knocked it back against the grain into an open net.
It was Freedman's fourth goal of the season. Leland Matthaeus got the assist on the play.
"It was a great goal," Whitman coach Mike Washington said. "Leland played the ball behind their defense, and by the time Sam got there he was almost on the back line. He turned and scored to the far post at a very difficult angle."
Down a goal with 21 minutes left to play, Whitworth stepped up its attack, taking five corner kicks and three shots down the stretch. Travis Gutierrez took two of those shots, forcing Whitman keeper Michael Bathurst to make his second save of the game on one of the scoring attempts.
Bathurst faced a total of seven Whitworth shots in posting his first collegiate shutout.
Both Bathurst saves came in the second half, after Whitman's defense had kept the Pirates from putting any of its first-half shots on goal.
"We defended quite well all game, especially at the end when they had a few corner kicks," Washington said. "They put us under some pressure toward the end but Bathurst and the defense handled it."
Cooper Crosby and John Fleming, along with Brian Percival and freshman Riley Hernandez, went the distance in the back for Whitman.
"Beau Morton also played one of his best games ever in the midfield," Washington added.
Whitman also took seven shots, getting two each from Freedman, Matthaeus and Conner Bottomly. Gutierrez and Justin Meyer had two shots apiece for Whitworth.
Late in the first half, Bottomly went up for a ball with Whitworth keeper Brian Sherpe and then scored when the ball popped loose, but the goal was disallowed by the referee. Bottomly was handed a yellow card instead for contact with the keeper.
"I really thought it was just a fifty-fifty ball that the keeper failed to hold onto," Washington said.
Whitman's only non-loss to Whitworth in their last eight meetings was a 0-0 double-overtime stalemate in November of 2008.
Whitman returns to the road next weekend to play NWC games at Puget Sound on Saturday and Pacific Lutheran on Sunday. The Missionaries then play their final five regular-season games at home.