Missionaries connect on winning goal late

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WALLA WALLA – The Whitman College men’s soccer team scored three second-half goals, including the game-winner with just 21 seconds left in regulation, to edge Walla Walla University 3-2 Tuesday night in a non-conference match at the Whitman Athletic Fields.

The win puts the Missionaries record at 4-6-2 on the season.

“It was a time for us tonight to get in the players who haven’t had a lot of minutes,” Whitman head coach Mike Washington said. “I was quite impressed. I thought they did really well. They executed our game plan just the way we wanted it. It was good to see some of the young players come through and play well. To get a goal with less than a minute to go ... you couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

The winning goal came on a loose ball in front of the goal. Whitman’s Trayvon Foy fired a shot that was blocked by Wolves goalkeeper Craig Nash, but the rebound was driven into the back of the net by Clint Vorauer and the Missionaries held on for the last few ticks of the clock to claim the victory.

The match was played on rain-slicked turf as the skies opened up for a solid hour before the match started, though it did not rain during the match.

The Wolves’ Brook Fesler broke a scoreless tie in the first half when he put in a rebound to give WWU a 1-0 lead at the 35:49 mark.

Neither team scored the rest of the half.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Missionary Daniel Varns scored the first of his two goals of the match to tie things up. Nathaniel Fleming beat the Wolves defender and dribbled in just left of the goal. His shot deflected off Nash, and Varns was there to punch it in.

At the 70:39 mark, Varns gave the Whits the lead when he fired a bullet from the top of the box past Nash. That edge was short lived, though, as WWU scored less than three minutes later on Fesler’s second goal of the match. Fesler dribbled right in traffic and then snapped off a shot into the lower right corner.

The two teams traded opportunities and it looked like regulation would end in a tie until Whitman got its chance on a ball that looked like it was going to be cleared, but fell in front of the goal.

“We talked about that this is an opportunity to get seen,” Washington said. “They (the younger players) got great support from our senior players, which was great. They are playing for a spot and their spots next year, as well. We talked about how this was a game that still counts for us.”

The Missionaries outshot the Wolves 23-12. Whitman had 10 on-goal to Walla Walla’s eight.

Baker Conte played the entire match between the pipes for the Missionaries, making six saves. His counterpart, Nash, made seven.

The Missionaries host Whitworth (3-2-1), with whom they are tied for third place in the Northwest Conference, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Wolves host South Puget Sound Community College at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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