by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – After stretching their unbeaten streak to four matches with wins over Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, the Whitworth Pirates travel to Oregon this weekend for one of their toughest tests of the season.
The Pirates open the weekend against defending conference champion Willamette on Saturday, Sept. 29 before taking on Linfield the following day. Both matches kick off at 2:30 p.m.
Live statistics and video links will be available on the Whitworth men's soccer schedule.
The Pirates: Whitworth (4-4-2, 3-0-1 NWC) extended its unbeaten streak to four matches with a win and a tie against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound. The Pirates opened the weekend by battling to a draw with the Loggers. Chase Reidt scored the Bucs' lone goal, the first of his career, in the 1-1 tie. The junior nearly scored a second goal in the final minutes of regulation, but Wren Norwood made a highlight-reel save to keep the Loggers in the match.
The Pirates had little trouble scoring the following day against Pacific Lutheran. Thanks in large part to Drew Williams' two second half goals, Whitworth defeated the Lutes 3-0. Williams played a role in three of the Pirates' four goals on the weekend, assisting Reidt on Saturday and scoring twice on Sunday. The only goal that the junior didn't have a part in was an own goal on the Lutes. Jesus Nunez earned the shutout for the Pirates with six saves.
Saving the Day: Since taking over the starting goalkeeper role at the beginning of the Northwest Conference play, Jesus Nunez has been one of the best in the NWC. The junior is second in the conference in saves and save percentage and ranks third in goals against average (1.10). Last week, Nunez was named the Northwest Conference Men's Soccer Defensive Student-Athlete of the week.
Bullseye: Drew Williams has been one of the top offensive threats in the Northwest Conference this season. The junior is second in the conference with 5 goals on the year, and his 11 points rank third in the NWC. Williams also is one of the most accurate attackers in the nation. 71 percent of his shots are on target, 16th best in the country. Williams' two goals and one assist last weekend earned Northwest Conference Men's Soccer Offensive Student-Athlete of the week honors.
The Bearcats: Willamette (7-1-1, 4-0 NWC) leads the Northwest Conference after notching a four-match win streak to open NWC play. Most recently, the Bearcats defeated George Fox 2-1 before taking down Pacific (Ore.) 4-0. The Willamette attack is paced by the conference leaders in goals and assists. Nicholas Ballenger leads the NWC with six goals and Quinn Mello-Bastida is tops the conference with six assists. In goal, Mason Kelliher boasts an NWC-best 0.67 goals against average with a .828 save percentage. Last season, the Pirates and Bearcats split their matches with each team winning on the other's home field. Willamette took down Whitworth 3-1 in Spokane and Kyle Cacoyannis' late goal gave the Bucs a 2-1 win in Salem.
The Wildcats: Linfield (3-4-1, 1-2-1 NWC) will likely be hoping to play at least one match that doesn't finish in a tie this weekend. The Wildcats played an extra 20 minutes in two double overtime matches against Pacific and George Fox last weekend, with both resulting in 1-1 ties. Cameron Perron leads the Wildcats in goal. The sophomore boasts top-three marks in goals against average (.95 – 2nd) and save percentage (.800 – 3rd). Gerardo Perez is the Wildcats' best scoring threat with three goals and Ronan Krutzikowsky leads the team with three assists. Whitworth swept Linfield last season, winning 3-1 at home and 3-0 on the road.
Looking Ahead: Whitworth returns to Spokane on Saturday, Oct. 6 to conclude the first half of the NWC season against Whitman.
The Coach: Morgan Cathey continues a long line of highly successful men's soccer coaches at Whitworth University that began with Einar Thorarinsson (1986-1994), who followed his time at Whitworth with a long stint as the head coach at Gonzaga University, and continued with Sean Bushey (1996-2012), who now coaches in Minnesota.
Cathey enters his sixth season as men's soccer coach at Whitworth in the fall of 2018 and has led the Pirates to a record of 67-19-11 through his first five seasons. He guided the Pirates to three consecutive Northwest Conference titles from 2014-16 and made three straight appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Cathey's record against NWC opponents is 50-13-10 over his first five seasons.