SPOKANE, Wash. – Robby Ubben knows when to score. The sophomore forward's goal with just under five minutes left in the second overtime period lifted 11th-ranked Whitworth to a hard-fought 1-0 win over visiting Whitman in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match on Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates improved to 9-0-2 overall and 6-0-1 (19 points) in the NWC and increased their lead in the conference standings to a full three points over Pacific Lutheran and five points over Puget Sound.
The win was witnessed by the 2005 Whitworth men's soccer team, on hand after being inducted into the school's Heritage Gallery Hall of Fame earlier in the day.
Samuel Engle set up the dramatic goal by winning the ball away from a Whitman player near midfield and then hitting a streaking Ubben in stride near the top of the box. Ubben took one touch and then fired the ball past goalkeeper Michael Bathurst.
"It was a great goal, including Sam's pass, on the occasion of a big conference game and the amount of running that went into the game," said Whitworth head coach Sean Bushey. "We feel good about the win, especially on the day of having the 2005 team inducted, but we also know there is a lot of conference play left to be played."
Ubben leads Whitworth with four goals this season. More important, all four of Ubben's goals have been match-winners.
Kyle Novak made five saves for Whitworth to post his ninth shutout of the season. Two were crucial. The first came in the final seconds of regulation as he stopped Jesse Mirman's header just before the horn sounded. He then made a diving save on a shot by Jed Jacobson in the first overtime period.
"I thought the first half of play saw both teams play some good soccer and create a couple of good chances to score," Bushey said. "In the second half we gave possession away too often and, coupled with Whitman's good play, we had to fend off some chances."
Whitworth finished with only a 10-9 edge in shots. Shots on-goal were even at five each. The Pirates had a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Whitworth will have a chance to take a huge step toward a possible NWC crown next weekend when the Bucs travel to Tacoma to face third-place Puget Sound on Saturday and second place PLU on Sunday.