by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Jonah Snyder regained his 2016 all-conference form scoring two goals with an assist on the way to a 4-1 Whitworth victory over Eastern Oregon.
The win sends the Pirates into Northwest Conference play with a 2-3 record and drops the Mountaineers to 3-1.
The Whitworth offense found the net for the first time in the 25th minute when Snyder scored his first goal of the season on a penalty kick. The returning Northwest Conference leader in goals was taken down in the box and made the Mountaineers pay for a 1-0 Whitworth lead.
"I thought our guys played well from the start," head coach Morgan Cathey said. "Both our offense and defense asserted themselves right away."
The Pirates were due for an opening goal after starting to create opportunities in the first five minutes of play. Zanskar Blair sent a cross from the right corner of the field in to Snyder. The flicked header from Snyder was on target, but Eastern Oregon goalkeeper Aidan Wright pushed the shot over the crossbar.
Jullian Wells made sure the Mountaineers came right back. The senior picked off a pass in Whitworth's defensive third, but his subsequent pass created an offside call, ending the attack.
Second half play began with two goals in one minute. First, Josh Goodman equalized for Eastern Oregon. Goodman received a pass five yards outside the box and loosed a shot off Jesus Nunez's hands and into the net. Then, Azzam Azzam found Moi Diaz outside the box where Diaz looped a shot over Wright's outstretched hands to take the lead. The goal is Diaz's second of the year, and gave Whitworth a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
The goals were emblematic of a fast-paced second half. Fans in attendance witnessed 17 shots and four corner kicks in an exciting half of soccer.
"There were a lot of transitional moments in the second half," Cathey said. "We did well to block a couple shots, and Nunez was great in goal."
Long-time teammates Kyle Cacoyannis and Snyder took advantage of the wide-open play to pour in goal number three. Cacoyannis streaked down the left side and sent in a line drive cross, which Snyder acrobatically finished right next to the net to make the score 3-1.
Snyder finished an excellent match with his first assist since the 2015 season. The senior calmly slid a pass to Sam McKay, who used some fancy footwork to make space before firing in Whitworth's fourth, and final, goal.
"It's nice to have our guys put together their most complete performance so far. We learned a lot this week and it showed today," Cathey said.
The authoritative win gives the Pirates momentum heading into Northwest Conference matches next weekend. Whitworth plays Pacific (Ore.) on Saturday, Sept. 16 and George Fox on Sunday, Sept. 17. Both matches begin at 2:30 p.m.