Riding on the momentum of their home-opening victory, Willamette University’s women’s soccer team traveled south to California this past weekend to take on the University of Redlands and Chapman University. Strong defense took front stage in both contests. Six total goals were scored by Corban University and Willamette in the home opener, but only four total goals were recorded in the two matches this past weekend. While Willamette was highly competitive in both games, the team lost both road matches, lowering their overall season record to 1-2.
The first contest took place on Friday, Sept. 6, at the University of Redlands. All of the game’s scoring took place in the back-and-forth initial 38 minutes. Skyla Wilson of the Bulldogs opened the scoring at 23:20 with an assist by teammate Emily Falla. Just 38 seconds later at 23:58, sophomore Sydney Wilson tied the game for Willamette at 1-1. The play was made possible by sophomore Aoi Sawanobori, a TIUA student. Sawanobori kicked a short pass through two defenders to Wilson at the far post, who buried the ball in the net.
The Bulldogs pulled ahead when Nolan Mendonca scored unassisted at the 38-minute mark. Neither team scored during the remaining 52 minutes. Senior Kristen Barclay played all 90 minutes in goal for Willamette and earned four saves. Despite the Bulldogs’ 6-3 advantage in shots on goal, the Bearcats’ strong defense kept the game close.
In the second game on Sunday, Sept. 8 at Chapman University, Willamette’s offense moved the ball well but was unable to find the net in a 1-0 loss. The game’s only goal was scored early on by Chapman’s Emmie Farber, who shot the ball from the penalty area into the lower right corner of the net. Willamette’s closest exchange of the day took place 19 minutes into the game. Sophomore Emma Blackburn’s initial shot was blocked by a defender, but Wilson recovered the ball and fired at the net again nine seconds later, only to be blocked yet again by a defender. Chapman’s goalkeeper Kelsey Bland played all 90 minutes, recording five saves. Barclay made five saves of her own for Willamette.
Senior Fionn Fortune’s shot at 88:07 was again saved by Bland, and Chapman was able to keep the ball away from Willamette for the final two minutes to seal the victory. The Bearcats held the advantage in both shots (14-8) and corner kicks (6-0), but Chapman’s 6-5 advantage in shots on goal proved to be the difference in the game. Chapman’s record moved to 4-0 for the season, remaining undefeated. Willamette will play five of their next seven games at home, but first must travel to University of Puget Sound’s campus to take on Trinity University. Trinity, holders of a 3-0 record for the season, are currently ranked #18 in a NCAA Division III poll conducted by United Soccer Coaches. Play is set to begin this coming Sunday, Sept. 15, at 11 a.m. (PST).