Whitworth Jumps to First in NWC with 1-0 Win

Whitworth Jumps to First in NWC with 1-0 Win

by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant

SPOKANE, Wash – Whitworth women's soccer vaulted themselves into first place in the Northwest Conference with a 1-0 win over the Pacific Lutheran Lutes.

Sunday's victory kept the Pirates undefeated in the NWC at 5-0-1 (6-3-1 overall), and handed the Lutes their first NWC loss, dropping them to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the NWC.

"[The win] speaks to our team's belief that they can compete with other great teams," head coach Bryan Olson said. "We saw the belief in both matches this weekend."

The result of their belief, Whitworth's match-winner, came in the 50th minute. During a scramble in the penalty box, McKenzie Hemp slid a short pass to Leah Corra, who gave Whitworth a 1-0 lead. 

After the goal, Whitworth's defense took the reins for the final 40 minutes. Center backs Diana DeWald, Sydney Weiler, and Tatem Fredrickson maintained possession while outside backs Jadyn Baumgartner and Jennifer Loehner moved the ball out of danger on multiple occaisions.

"It was nice to see us defend well against a great opponent," Olson said. "We're really growing in our composure. 

The match-winner came just after a first half where the Pirates and Lutes created chances in the first half, but neither could find the back of the net.

Kelly Wucherer and Hannah Rae Miller combined on one-touch passes, but Wucherer's pass just escaped the head of Corra in the goal box. Rachel Woffard contributed a shot on goal, but Natalie Robinson saved it easily.

On the PLU side, the majority of the Lutes' scoring opportunities were created within the first ten minutes. Machaela Graddy took two shots, one on goal, but Molly Webster and the Whitworth defense kept the match scoreless.

The Lutes totaled up 13 shots over the course of the match, but could only put three on goal. All five of Whitworth's shots were on goal. Corra's goal was her fifth of the season and just the second goal scored against the Lutes this year.

Webster finished the match with three saves, and Robinson saved four shots. The shutout was Webster's third of the year and the Pirates' fourth in the last five matches.

After hopping into the driver's seat of the Northwest Conference, the Pirates will look to maintain their lead on Wednesday. Whitworth takes on Whitman at 4:00 p.m. on the Whitworth Soccer Field.