WALLA WALLA - Two early goals proved sufficient as the Whitman College women's soccer team won its home opener, a 2-1 victory over Northwest Nazarene Saturday afternoon at the Whitman Athletic Fields.
It took Whitman, now 2-1 on the season, just 90 seconds to dent the scoreboard against the NCAA Division II Crusaders.
Jaclyn Rudd, a Missionary sophomore, opened the scoring, punching home a penalty kick into the right side of the netting.
Two of Rudd's sophomore teammates set the stage for the PK. Marisa Poorboy fed a ball into the box for Julianne Masser, who was pulled to the turf, drawing the foul.
Whitman struck again three minutes later when junior Marisol Fonzeca split the defense on the right side, took a pass from first-year Missionary Kelsey Roehner, and grounded a ball into the left corner of the goal.
Northwest Nazarene cut its deficit in two in the 27th minute of the first half, scoring off a corner kick. Junior Lauren Brougham, Whitman's keeper, blocked the initial header, but Autumn Yturbe was there to poke in the rebound.
That was it for the offensive fireworks as the two sides played through a scoreless first half.
Brougham kept Whitman in front with a diving stop to her left at the 77:19 mark of the second stanza.
Brougham made six saves on the day, four of them coming in a six-minute span soon after Whitman had extended its early lead to 2-0. The best of her stops came against a long free kick that she pushed just over the crossbar.
"That was a big save," Whitman coach Heather Cato said. "It had a big impact on the early momentum."
Whitman nearly gave itself some breathing room in the final minutes of the second half.
Masser got a good look while sweeping from right to left across the front of the goal, but her shot rolled wide right. Twenty seconds later, Poorboy drilled a hard shot that Crusader keeper Tanya Zickefoose managed to hold.
"Getting the two ear
ly goals was good, but then we were unable to produce another one," Cato said. "We certainly had plenty of opportunities. That's one of the things we need to work on."
Cato was pleased with her team's defensive effort, led by junior Kate Potter. Another of Whitman's defensive stalwarts, junior Libby Watkins, missed the game because of injury.
"That put more of the pressure on Kate, but she took control in the back," she said. "Northwest Nazarene plays very direct, and our defense handled all the pressure they could throw at us."
The first-year coach also was pleased to see her squad bounce back after Thursday's overtime loss to Northwest University in Kirkland, Wash.
"That showed some character," she said. "It was good to see, especially since we are a fairly young team."
Northwest Nazarene, 2-2 on the season, finished with a slight 13-12 edge in shots. Poorboy took five of Whitman's shots while Fonzeca had three.
Whitman travels to Spokane Wednesday to open Northwest Conference play against Whitworth.