By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash -- Willamette University improved to 5-1-1 on the season with a 2-0 shutout victory over the University of Puget Sound on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Baker Stadium. The Bearcats, who are ranked #9 in the West Region of NCAA Division III by the United Soccer Coaches, received goals from Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) and Josh Schneider (Fr., F, Washoughal, WA/Camas HS). WU is 2-0 in the Northwest Conference. Puget Sound fell to 3-3 overall, 1-1 in the NWC.
Willamette won both games on its weekend trip to Tacoma. The Bearcats defeated Pacific Lutheran University, 3-1, on Saturday, Sept. 15 to open NWC play. PLU entered the game ranked #7 in the West Region.
"It was a solid all-around performance from all of our guys," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi commented. "We had a plan and the guys followed it very well. Coming to Tacoma is one of the hardest trips of the year, and our boys showed quality and resilience throughout the whole game. It's still a long season, but I'm proud of our team."
Earlier this year, Puget Sound played well in narrow losses to Trinity University (Texas), ranked #1 in the West Region and #9 in NCAA Division III, and to University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), ranked #2 in the West Region and #15 in NCAA Division III. UMHB edged the Loggers, 2-1, in two overtimes, while Trinity defeated Puget Sound, 1-0.
On Sunday, Berner-Hays scored the first goal for the Bearcats at 27:21 on an assist from Yuta Suga (So., M, Urawa, Japan/RKU). Willamette remained in front 1-0 at halftime with a 7-2 margin in total shots and a 4-1 lead in shots on goal.
In the second half, Berner-Hays put another shot on target at 52:55, but Puget Sound's goalkeeper, Ethan Stern-Ellis, registered a save. Willamette goalie Mason Kelliher (Jr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) kept the Bearcats in front with saves on Ian Hamel's corner kick that went goalward at 63:42 and on a follow shot by Patrick Selner seconds later.
The Bearcats extended their lead to 2-0 on the goal by Schneider at 67:48. He shot from the left side past Stern-Ellis and into the net. Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) earned an assist on the play. Schneider led all players with three shots -- all on goal -- during the game
Willamette outshot the Loggers 9-4 in the second half, as each team placed four shots on target. For the game, WU owned a 16-6 advantage in shots and an 8-5 edge in shots on goal. Kelliher provided the Bearcats with five saves while claiming the complete-game shutout. Stern-Ellis made six saves for Puget Sound. Willamette ended the game with a 9-2 margin in corner kicks.
Up next on the Bearcats' schedule is a home game against NWC rival George Fox University on Saturday, Sept. 22 at Sparks Field. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. (PDT).