Goal by Berner-Hays, Saves from Kelliher, Lead Bearcats in 1-0 Win against Blues

Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS)
Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) of Willamette University scored the game's only goal 14:30 into the first half, and teammate Mason Kelliher (Jr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) finished with five saves, as the Bearcats defeated Whitman College, 1-0, at Sparks Field on Sunday, Sept. 30. The Bearcats improved to 9-1-1 overall with the Northwest Conference triumph and remained undefeated in the conference at 6-0. The Blues slipped to 5-5 on the season, 4-2 in the NWC.

The Bearcats are ranked #4 in the West Regoin of NCAA Division III by the United Soccer Coaches. Willamette is currently the only NWC team in the West Region rankings.

Berner-Hays, who scored both goals in Willamette's 2-0 victory against Whitworth University on Saturday, Sept. 29, has scored a conference-leading seven goals on the season. He has scored at least one goal in three consecutive games and has earned a goal or an assist in each of the past five match-ups. In addition to leading the NWC in goals, he also ranks first in overall scoring with 18 total points.

"In today's game, we saw the effects of a long, grueling game yesterday, but our defense and goalkeeper were simply amazing in leading our team to another shutout performance. Even so, we know we are far superior to what we showed today, so we will have something to work toward improving this week."

Against Whitman, the goal by Berner-Hays gave the Bearcats an early edge on the Blues. The goal was scored shortly after a corner kick. Berner-Hays headed the ball causing it to go high into the air and toward the end line. A defender headed it back into play. It fell near Berner-Hays. who shot the ball as a defender lunged at it as well. The shot went into the net. Willamette kept its 1-0 advantage during the remaining 31:30 of the first half and all 45 minutes in the second half.

Kelliher registered four saves in the second half as Whitman battled to score a tying goal. His best save was a diving fingertip deflection of a shot by Erick Nielsen at 59:12. Kelliher dove to his left on the play and managed to send the ball wide of the goal and over the end line. The Blues forced Kelliher to make two more saves over the next 2:12 on shots by Sam Johnson and Derivan Docktor. Kelliher's final save of the game was at 82:05 on a shot by Docktor.

Two of the three saves earned by Whitman goalkeeper Matt Reich also occurred in the second half. He stopped a shot by Maxwell McKee (Sr., M, Coronado, CA/Coronado HS) early in the half at 51:38. Later, Reich saved a shot from Ryan Sato (Fr., F, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS) at 66:15.

Whitman outshot the Bearcats 16-14 during the game and the Blues held a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal. The game was called tightly by the officials, with Willamette accumulating 27 fouls and Whitman amassing 19 fouls. Even so, the play was hard-fought, but clean. Only two yellow cards were issued -- to Willamette players Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) and Sato.

The Bearcats are scheduled to play archrival Linfield College on Saturday, Sept. 6 in McMinnville, Oregon. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).