by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – A season which began with two agonizingly close 2-1 losses ended with another as the Whitworth Pirates fell to the Whitman Blues in overtime.
The Pirates finish the year at 10-8-1 overall and 8-5-1 in the Northwest Conference. The Blues end their season 9-7-3 overall and 8-3-3 in NWC play.
"It was a tough way for our seniors to go out, but I take so many positives away from how we played the game today," head coach Morgan Cathey said.
Whitworth opened the match strong offensively, taking five corner kicks in the first 35 minutes of the match and controlling most of the possession. The Pirates nearly opened the scoring in the 27th minute, but consecutive headers from Kyle Morris and Kyle Cacoyannis were saved on the goal line by a Whitman defender.
As a result, the teams headed into the halftime break tied 0-0 despite the Pirates best efforts.
"We played one of the best halves of soccer I've ever seen us play in the first half," Cathey said. "Whitman defended really well."
Whitman was the first team on the scoreboard after a 50th minute goal from Erik Nielson. After Alex Cooper sent a line drive cross into the box, Nielson's diving header sent the ball to the back of the net and opened the scoring.
The Pirates returned fire off the foot of Jonah Snyder. The senior scored his final goal as a Pirate on a penalty kick and equalized the match at one in the 62nd minute. The goal was Snyder's ninth of the year.
Both teams had their chances to score in the remaining thirty minutes, but neither could thanks to a combination of quality defending and a snowy, slippery playing surface. The match would go to overtime tied 1-1.
CJ Fritz ended the match in its second overtime. After a Pirate defender slipped during build-up play, Fritz dispossessed him. The sophomore then scored the match-winning goal in the 106th minute.
The loss ends the careers of eight Pirate seniors, who hold the record for most wins by a class in Pirate history with 55.
"I think the thing that will be missed the most is the desire and passion our seniors had to make the program great," Cathey said. "They bought in to everything we asked of them in every part of their lives. There are not enough good things to say about these guys."