by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The second half of the Northwest Conference men's soccer season begins this weekend for the Whitworth Pirates, who host Linfield and Willamette as they look to snap a three-match losing streak.
Whitworth opens the weekend against Linfield on Saturday, Oct. 13 before taking on Willamette the following day. Both matches are scheduled to 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 (4-7-2, 3-3-1 NWC) dropped its lone match last weekend to Whitman. The 2-1 overtime defeat came as a result of a deflected pass that fell to Joe Thompson, who scored a match-winning goal in the 92nd minute. Ethan Kem scored the Pirates' lone goal. The sophomore curled a 20-yard free kick into the back of the net to tie the match in the 71st minute.
Jesus Saves: 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 tied for first in the conference in saves (45) and third in save percentage (.776).
Bullseye: Drew Williams has been one of the top offensive threats in the Northwest Conference. The junior is fifth in the conference with 5 goals on the year, and his 11 points also rank fifth in the NWC. Williams is also one of the most accurate attackers in the nation. 72 percent of his shots are on target, fifth-best in the country.
The Wildcats: Linfield (3-6-2, 1-4-2 NWC), like the Pirates, enters the weekend after getting an extra day off last week. The Wildcats were defeated 3-2 by Willamette on Saturday before having Sunday off from competition. Linfield has struggled defensively during the season, allowing the second-most goals (15) of any team during conference play. The Wildcats rely on a total team effort to make up for their defense. Ten different Wildcats have scored the team's ten goals during NWC play, a league-high. When Whitworth and Linfield last played, the Wildcats defeated the Pirates 2-0 at Linfield.
The Bearcats: Willamette (10-1-1, 7-0 NWC) swept through the first half of the Northwest Conference season and enters the weekend on a ten-match unbeaten streak. The Bearcats are the top-scoring team in the conference with 17 goals entering the weekend. Max Berner-Hays leads the team offensively with seven goals (1st in the NWC) and four assists (t-3rd). Mason Keliher anchors the Bearcats' league-leading defense with an NWC-best .863 save percentage and 0.66 goals. Keliher earned a shutout last time the Pirates and Bearcats squared off as Willamette earned a 2-0 win at home.
Looking Ahead: The Bucs hit the road for the second-to-last time in NWC play. Whitworth takes on Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound the weekend of Oct. 20-21.
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.