WALLA WALLA - Following a competitive first half of soccer that ended with zeroes on the scoreboard, Whitman College revved up its offense in the first minute of Sunday's second half, sending Riley Hernandez charging up the right side of the field with the ball at his feet.
Hernandez unleashed a hard blast from the top of the box, but some quick reflexes by Puget Sound goalkeeper Chris McDonald deflected the ball out of bounds.
That one play gave little clue of what was to come, but it was Puget Sound that was soon racing away with a big 4-0 Northwest Conference victory.
The first hint came eight minutes later, when a Puget Sound free kick sailed into a mass of humanity at the front of Whitman's goal. Somehow helped along by Puget Sound's Connor Laferriere, the ball squirted from the scrum and found the netting for a 1-0 Logger lead.
Whitman stayed in the game for the next 15 minutes, but a quick-hitting play triggered by Ryan Rash and capped by Carson Swope made it 2-0 and seemed to crack open the floodgates.
It took the Loggers less than five minutes to score again, this time piecing together back-to-back headers at the Whitman goal mouth to extend their lead. This time it was Rash getting the goal, assisted by Laferriere and Matthew Durland.
With the game all but over, Puget Sound tacked on its fourth goal with less than five minutes left. Laferriere picked up his second assist on the play, which was finished by Geoffrey Cleveland.
"As much as anything, we defended poorly today," Whitman coach Mike Washington said. "Three of their four goals came off a corner kick, a free kick and a throw-in that we threw to the wrong team. Those defensive lapses really hurt us."
Puget Sound called it a day with an 18-10 shot advantage, which included a 6-3 edge in shots on goal.
Andrew Clark led Whitman's offense with three shots. Leland Matthaeus took two.
Swope paced the Loggers with four shots. Cleveland, Laferriere, Andrew White and Vincent McCluskey added two shots apiece.
"Kudos to Puget Sound for the diamond-shaped midfield it used," Washington said.
"They had a game plan and they finished their chances while we didn't create that many. This is one of those games that we have to take on the chin and come back stronger."
McDonald made three saves to get the shutout for the Loggers.
The victory gives Puget Sound a 3-1 NWC record (4-3 overall). Whitman fell to 2-2 in conference and 2-3-2 on the season.
Whitman heads to western Oregon next weekend, playing Saturday at Linfield and Sunday at Lewis & Clark. Both games start at 2:30 p.m.
"I don't think any team is going to run away with our conference this year," Washington said. "We need to bounce back next weekend, get two wins and get back on track."