by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates and Willamette Bearcats battled to a hard-fought and physical 1-1 draw in Sunday afternoon's Northwest Conference men's soccer contest.
Whitworth (4-8-3, 3-4-2 NWC) and Willamette (11-1-2, 8-0-1 NWC) combined for 7 yellow cards and 37 fouls on the day. Twenty-four of the fouls and six of the yellow cards were handed out in the second half and overtime.
"Our guys settled into the game well today," Whitworth head coach Morgan Cathey said. "Our guys are really trying to right the ship and be the team we know they can be."
Both of the match's goals came on set pieces in the first half, with the Pirates scoring an early goal and the Bearcats equalizing soon after.
The Pirates lit up the scoreboard after a wild play in the penalty area. During a Whitworth corner kick, Willamette's Max Berner-Hays fell to the ground after slight contact in the box. A different Willamette athlete caught the kick, likely expecting a foul call. When no foul was called, the Pirates received a penalty kick for the hand ball.
Kyle Cacoyannis made the Bearcats pay for their mistake. The senior stepped to the spot and buried the penalty kick in the bottom-left corner. The goal was Cacoyannis' second of the year.
Berner-Hays got his revenge minutes later. The tall center back knocked in his NWC-leading eighth goal of the year with a full-extension dive to even the match at one.
After Berner-Hays' put the Bearcats on the board, the two teams engaged in an up-and-down battle for the final 72 minutes. Neither team possessed the ball for long periods of time, and each defensive line was forced to bend without breaking.
"Our guys were awesome today," Cathey said. "They brought grit and fight today, and that was the difference between today's match and yesterday's."
Chase Reidt earned multiple opportunities to break the deadlock in the second half of the match. The transfer picked up the ball near the penalty area on multiple occasions before being fouled or muscled off the ball by a Willamette defender.
On the other end of the field, Jesus Nunez came up big for the Bucs to keep the match knotted at one. The junior goalkeeper finished with five saves and ended numerous scoring opportunities by punching away or grabbing free kicks.
Up next, the Pirates travel to Parkland, Wash. to take on Pacific Lutheran on Saturday, Oct. 20.