by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
The win boosts the Pirates to 7-6-1 overall and 5-3-1 in the Northwest Conference, while the Bearcats drop to 7-4-2 and 6-1-2 in NWC play.
In a back-and-forth match, the Pirates struck first. Eric Espinoza, standing right next to the goal, redirected a shot from Moi Diaz into the back of the net to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute.
The goal seemed to give the Pirates more than the 1-0 lead. It also gave them the confidence to settle into their usual patient, possessive style of play. For the remainder of the first half, the Pirates maintained the vast majority of possession, only taking chances when they had space.
Despite the Pirates near monopoly on possession, the Bearcats took advantage of the possession they had to equalize just before halftime. Quinn Mello-Bastida found space on the right side of the field. He crossed in to Patrick Charlton, who sent the second goal of the match past Jesus Nunez.
The match would head to halftime in a 1-1 tie. The Bearcats finished the half with more shots, leading 9-6, but the Pirates took more shots on goal and took that 5-4 advantage into the half.
The second half, like the majority of the match, was incredibly competitive. The teams traded shots over and over, but the majority were saved by Nunez and Marco Gonzalez-Yanez. Nunez would finish the match with five saves, while Gonzalez-Yanez picked up eight.
In the end, Cacoyannis broke through the Willamette defense for the one second half shot that Gonzalez-Yanez didn't save. The senior picked a good time to score the first match-winner of his career, scooting a shot to the back of the net in the 82nd minute. Diaz was credited with the assist on the match-winner, his second of the match and the season.
After the goal, Willamette turned up the intensity of its attack, but Nunez and the Whitworth back line held strong to give the Pirates their fourth straight victory.
After finishing up an undefeated road swing at Whitman, Linfield, and Willamette, Whitworth returns home to take on Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran. The Pirates battle the Loggers Saturday, Oct. 21 and take on the Lutes Sunday, Oct. 22. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.