by Brandon Loiler, Sports Information Assistant
SALEM, Ore. – The Whitworth men's soccer team clinched the Northwest Conference Championshipand earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Div. III National Tournament with a 1-0 double overtime win against Willamette on a golden goal by Kyle Morris.
The Pirates (12-3-2, 10-1-2 NWC) have 32 points, eight points more than second place Pacific (Ore.). Willamette (8-7-1, 6-6-1 NWC) falls to .500 on the season and is tied for fourth place with PLU with 19 points.
The Bearcats outshot the Pirates in total shots 15 to 10, but Whitworth had the edge in shots on target five to four. Two of the Pirates four shots on goal came in the first 10 minutes on attempts from midfielders Eric Espinoza and Jonah Snyder. All four Willamette shots on target and Timmy Costa's saves came in the first 45 minutes.
Whitworth defender Aaron Yanagi was issued a caution in the 61st minute. Another foul in the 73rd minute warranted a second yellow card (resulting in a red card) for Yanagi and his ejection from the game. He will serve a one-game suspension in the Pirates last NWC matchup of the season. In the 90th minute, Moi Diaz attempted on final shot on target that was scooped up by Bearcat goalkeeper Josh Fuentes.
Over the first period of overtime, the Whitworth defense blocked two Willamette shot attempts. Before the Bearcats' second shot attempt, in the 95th minute, Ethan Tait was issued a yellow card.
A foul in the Pirates' defensive third stopped play long enough for Tony Watters to restart with a pass to center back Kyle Morris. Morris launched a shot from Whitworth's side of midfield that bounced over the head of Fuentes for the Pirate win and the Northwest Conference Championship.
Coming Up; The Pirates will take on Whitman in the Battle of the Whits on Saturday, Nov. 5 in the last Northwest Conference game of the season.