WALLA WALLA — Whitman College nailed down a winning Northwest Conference record with a 2-1 men’s overtime soccer victory over league champion and nationals-bound Whitworth University Saturday afternoon on the Missionary campus.
The victory in the Whits’ season finale boosted their record to 6-5-3, good enough for fifth place, and to 8-8-4 overall.
“This was a nice way to send our seniors off with a victory,” said Whitman coach Mike Washington after concluding his 14th season at the helm.
Sophomore Joe Virdon scored Whitman’s winning goal 4 minutes, 29 seconds into the first overtime period to secure the victory. He scored the goal unassisted as he headed the ball over Whitworth goalkeeper Nate Bell’s outstretched arms.
Whitman had taken an early 1-0 lead when senior Andrew Clark of Pasco connected from the left side of the box. Clark’s goal, which came at 52:47, was assisted by another senior, Dhavan Vengadasalam.
The Pirates knotted the score at one apiece midway through the second half. Tyler Clarke got the goal at 76:50, assisted by Kekoa Mountcasle, on a breakaway shot.
Senior Michael Bathurst earned his eighth victory of the season as he recorded two saves in going the distance in goal for the Missionaries. Whitman kept the Pirates’ Bell busy with 10 shots on goal, eight of which were denied.
“We dominated play and outshot them by 20-something,” Washington said.
Whitman held a 12-1 advantage in shots attempted in the first half alone, and the final difference was 22-4.
Washington said he was surprised that Whitman coach Sean Bushey decided to rest some of his players in anticipation of postseason play. But he said it did not detract from his team’s victory.
“I’m not sure of his plans,” Washington said of the Whitworth coach. “But we took advantage of them. And they were still a very capable team. They still had 11 players on the field and I’m not taking anything away from our players. We dominated, and we deserved to win.”
What Washington wasn’t surprised about was the fact that the game went into overtime. It was the eighth overtime match of the season for the Missionaries.
“It was shocking to be in overtime,” Washington said, tongue firmly in cheek. “We joke about it every time that we don’t want to do now. Truth is, we almost expect it.
“It’s not something we are trying to do. It seems like we attack too much at times and we leave ourselves vulnerable to a counter attack. That’s something we definitely need to fix.”
Something to put on next year’s to-do list.