Men’s soccer continues to impress
By Blake Lepire
With almost half of conference play in the books, the men’s and women’s soccer teams both look to finish the season strong.
The women’s team began their conference schedule with four games on the road against Lewis & Clark, Whitman, Whitworth and Puget Sound. They finished the stretch 1-3, including a 1-0 win against Whitworth.
This past weekend, the lady Bearcats came home to a full crowd for a two-game set against conference rivals George Fox and Linfield.
“It felt great to play on our home field again,” senior Brenna McGown said. “There’s just that something about playing on our home field that amps the team up. A lot of our parents were also here this weekend, so it was great to have that support from them.”
The weekend started out well, with a double overtime 0-0 draw against George Fox. Willamette took 28 shots to George Fox’s 7, forcing the George Fox goalie to make 11 saves.
The next day, the Bearcats took on Linfield at home and lost 2-0, dropping their conference record to 1-4-1.
So far, five of the women’s 10 games have been decided by one goal or less.
“More than anything, I think these close games are getting us really pumped up,” McGown said. “Hopefully our response will be to come out even harder this week in practice so that we can get some wins this weekend.”
The men’s team has had a different start to their conference season.
The men began their conference season on the road with a double overtime win against Whitman and a 1-0 loss against Whitworth. Since that loss, the Bearcats have been on fire, going 3-0-1 in their last four games, which puts them in a great position to compete for a conference championship.
“We came in this year knowing the conference was up for grabs. We knew we were underrated and loved it. It gave us something to prove coming into conference,” senior Luke Falcone said. “We’ve never had a group as gifted as this. We know that we have the size, speed and technical ability to outplay anybody at our level.”
On Saturday, the Bearcats took on Pcaific University at home.
Willamette struck first with an unassisted goal by sophomore Julian Hanlon-Austin in the 21st minute. However, Pacific responded with a goal of its own just a minute later. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Bearcats faced George Fox on Sunday. The team exploded offensively behind junior Yazan Hishmeh’s hat trick and a late goal by freshman Alan Hernandez. The final score was 4-1 in favor of the Bearcats.
“We have to keep our focus on the next game. This weekend we dropped points we shouldn’t have, and it was simply due to losing our focus,” Falcone said. “The NWC is a highly competitive conference, for us every point we can take away from a weekend is vital.”