WALLA WALLA - Despite playing a man down for much of the afternoon, Whitman College worked its way to a 2-1 overtime victory over Willamette in Northwest Conference men's soccer action Saturday afternoon at the Whitman Athletic Fields.
Sophomore defender Cooper Schumacher headed home the game-winning shot in the fourth minute of overtime, helping Whitman hold fast to a share of third place in the NWC standings with an 8-4 record (8-7-2 overall).
Losing for the second time this fall to Whitman, Willamette slipped to 4-7-1 in conference and 5-8-2 on the season.
Schumacher, the reigning NWC Defensive Player of the Week, used his 6-foot-3 frame to get his forehead on a corner kick from sophomore Junpei Tsuji. The game-winning poke was his third goal of the season and second in the past week.
"Cooper just rose above everyone else on the corner kick to head the ball down and in," Whitman coach Mike Washington said.
"Cooper also played well defensively," Washington added. "Our entire back line did a great job. They were under a lot of pressure after we lost a player in the first half, but they made a few adjustments and were good."
Reid Shaw, another of Whitman's sophomore defenders, was "absolutely phenomenal," Washington said. "Cooper and Reid and the rest of them kept us in the game until we could win it in overtime."
Willamette scored first, getting a goal from Adan Vazquez just 11 minutes into the contest.
It took Whitman a mere two minutes to answer back.
Senior Sam Freedman, collecting his team-leading sixth assist of the season, sent a cross into the box from the left side for sophomore Riley Hernandez, who scored at the far post for his first goal of the season.
In what soon developed into a somewhat physical test, Hernandez drew two yellow cards in the space of five minutes and was sent from the pitch with more than 20 minutes left in the first half.
"That can't happen any more," Washington said. "Playing a man down puts us under too much pressure. We don't need that. Willamette is an energetic, hard-working team as it is."
Whitman continued to battle the Bearcats and a numerical disadvantage through much of the second half. With less than eight minutes left in regulation, however, Willamette's Loftin Langsdorf was sent off with his second yellow.
An energized Whitman squad outshot the visitors 4-1 over the closing minutes and nearly won it in the final seconds when sophomore defender Jack Morgan hit the crossbar with a shot.
Willamette generated the first shot in overtime, but it was Tsuji's corner kick and Schumacher's header that settled matters at the 93:12 mark.
Both teams took 13 shots on the day, although Willamette had a 6-4 edge in shots on goal. The Missionaries finished with six corner kicks, one more than the Bearcats.
Junior keeper Michael Bathurst made five saves to get the win for Whitman. Alfredo Zuniga, his Bearcat counterpart, made two saves.
Willamette was whistled for a total of 24 fouls and five yellow cards. Whitman was called for eight fouls and three yellows.
The Missionaries stay at home today to host Linfield at the Whitman Athletic Fields, starting at 2:30 p.m.