SPOKANE, Wash. – Despite giving up twice as many goals as it has in any match this season, Whitworth rallied past visiting Pacific Lutheran for a 3-2 Northwest Conference men's soccer victory on Saturday afternoon.
The 11th-ranked Pirates improved to 8-0-1 overall and 5-0 (15 points) in the NWC. The Lutes saw their four-match winning streak come to an end and fell to 5-4-1, 4-1 (12 points).
As is typical of the traditional Northwest Conference powers, the pace of play was intense and fast throughout and the contest featured wide swings in momentum.
"The sustained tempo of the game was higher than we've seen this year," said Whitworth head coach Sean Bushey. "Coupled with the goals it was a good game for fans to watch."
Whitworth got on the board first on an amazing bicycle kick goal from freshman Samuel Engle. Colin Shockman set up the goal by getting clear on the right sideline. His long cross found Mike Chavez, who headed the ball back toward Engle. Engle elevated with his back to the goal and kicked the ball over his head and just inside the right post in the 11th minute for his third goal of the season.
"Certainly Engle's goal is one that doesn't come around very often," Bushey understated.
Emmanuel Amarh tied it for PLU in the first half when he a pass from Giancarlo Santoro and beat Whitworth keeper Kyle Novak from near the top of the box in the 24th minute. Amarh now has five goals this season.
Pacific Lutheran controlled possession for the first ten minutes of the second half and it was rewarded when Shane Gutierrez connected on a long, hard shot just inside the left post from outside the penalty area in the 57th minute. It was his first goal of the year.
Whitworth tied the match ten minutes later when Will Wren got possession deep in the Lutes' end, dribbled around his defender and found Sam Selisch wide open in the middle of the box. It was the first goal of the season for Selisch.
Justin Mikkola made a great defensive play to set up Robby Ubben for the match-winning goal. His interception was directed toward Ubben, who flicked the ball over PLU keeper Joe Rayburn and into the net for his third goal of the season in the 84th minute.
"PLU is a team that does not give in as they worked themselves into the lead," Bushey said. "However, we showed good resiliency as well."
After giving up a season-high two goals to the Lutes, the Whitworth defense buttoned up and allowed PLU only a single shot in the final five minutes. Brenden Cohen's attempt with just under two minutes to play was high.
Whitworth finished with a shot advantage of 22-10, including an 11-4 edge in shots on goal. Rayburn made eight saves to keep his team close. Novak made two saves for the Pirates.
Whitworth will host 21st-ranked Puget Sound on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., while PLU travels to play at Whitman.