SPOKANE, Wash. - Taylor Willi scored twice to lead Whitworth to a 6-1 win over visiting Willamette on Sunday afternoon in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match.
The Pirates improved to 13-3-1 overall and 11-2 in the NWC while the Bearcats fell to 5-9-2, 4-8-1.
Willi scored Whitworth's second goal of the first half, and first goal of the second half to help break the game open. The first was in the 43rd minute from an assist by Nic Shaw and the second came in the 49th minute when Andrew French sent a one-touch pass to a streaking Willi in the middle of the box. The goals were Willi's third and fourth of the season.
Dion Coxe put the Pirates on the board when he was in the right place to put back a free-kick shot from Cameron Bushey that was stopped, but not controlled, by Willamette keeper Alfredo Zuniga in the 32nd minute.
After Whitworth had taken a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead early in the second half, the Bearcats created some tense moments for the Pirates. First Adan Vazquez scored his fifth goal of the season when he intercepted a clearing attempt and nailed a shot from just outside the top of the box in the 50th minute.
Ten minutes later Vazquez appeared to make it 3-2 when he beat Whitworth keeper Brian Sherpe to a ball at the top of the box and shot a rolling ball toward a wide open goal. But Shaw raced in from the opposite side and kicked the ball away at the last instant. And Shaw was in position again to get his body on Vazquez's follow shot.
Just three minutes later Whitworth stretched the lead back to three goals when Anders Nostdahl took a cross from JT Meyer and beat Zuniga to the lower right corner of the net. It was Nostdahl's second tally of the season.
Whitworth outshot Willamette 25-8 in the match, including a 10-3 edge in shots on goal.
The Pirates remain one game behind Pacific Lutheran in the NWC standings with one match to play. Even though Whitworth can still tie PLU in the standings, the Lutes have clinched the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament by virtue of holding the tiebreaker over Whitworth.
The Pirates will finish the season next Saturday at home with a match against Whitman at 2:30 p.m. A win would give Whitworth 14 victories. It would be the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Bucs have reached 14 wins.