by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash - Whitworth men's soccer fell 3-1 to the Willamette Bearcats on Sunday afternoon.
The loss dropped Whitworth to 3-6-1 overall and 1-3-1 in the Northwest Conference while the Bearcats moved to 6-3 overall and 5-0 in the NWC. The win also keeps Willamette in first place of the Northwest Conference with 15 points.
Hijiri Iijima opened the scoring for the Bearcats on a quirky goal. Iijima went to steal the ball from a Pirate defender and his contact resulted in a shot where the ball eeked into the goal to give Willamette the 1-0 they carried into halftime.
Early in the second half, Iijima assisted on the Bearcats' second goal, which Alan Hernandez scored to give Willamette a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute. They would score again on a shot by Nicholas Ballenger in the 53rd minute, which essentially ensured a Bearcat victory.
Hernandez assisted on Ballenger's 53rd minute strike. The assist was his fourth of the year, placing Hernandez second in the NWC.
Moi Diaz scored an 80th minute goal for the Pirates to ensure they weren't shut out, but it was too late to threaten the Bearcats. Jonah Snyder assisted on Diaz's goal, his third assist of the season.
Whitworth lead Willamette in shots 16-9, but the Bearcats held a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal. The Pirates finished with four corner kicks compared to Willamette's three.
Jesus Nunez ended the match with four saves, including two in the first half at point-blank range to keep the match scoreless before Iijima's goal. Willamette's Marco Gonzalez-Yanez saved three Whitworth shots, upping his save percentage to .773 for the season.
The Pirates will look to bounce back Sunday afternoon when they take on Linfield. The match begins at 2:30 p.m. on the Whitworth Soccer Field.