Bearcats Stay Undefeated in NWC, as Ichigi Scores in OT for 3-2 Win over Linfield

Hikaru Ichigi (Jr., M, Kobe, Japan/Fujiigakuen Sangawa)
Hikaru Ichigi (Jr., M, Kobe, Japan/Fujiigakuen Sangawa)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Hikaru Ichigi (Jr., M, Kobe, Japan/Fujiigakuen Sangawa) scored for Willamette University at 97:50 to give the Bearcats a 3-2 overtime win against archrival Linfield College in a Northwest Conference game on Saturday, Oct. 6 on the Linfield campus. With the victory, Willamette upped its record to 10-1-1 on the season and remained undefeated in the NWC at 7-0-0. Linfield, which rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime, fell to 3-6-2, including 1-4-2 in the NWC.

Willamette had all three shots taken in overtime. A shot by Carter McCleary (So., M, Port Hadlock, WA/Chimacum HS) was saved by Perron at 95:06. Ballenger missed just high on a header at 96:55 following a corner kick. The third shot was the game-winner by Ichigi, who slotted the ball under Linfield goalkeeper Cameron Perron from six-yards into the left side of the goal.

Ichigi has score three goals this season and all three have been game-winners. He scored at 36:51 for a 2-0 lead in what proved to be a 2-1 win over George Fox University on Sept. 22. He earned the Bearcats' first goal just 2:12 into the game in a 4-0 win against Pacific University one day later on Sept. 23.

Willamette's other goals on Saturday against Linfield were scored by Patrick Charlton (Jr., M, Port Towsend, WA/Port Towsend HS) and Nicholas Ballenger (Jr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS). Charlton's goal was his first of the season. Ballenger is tied with teammate Max Berner-Hays (So., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) and Joe Sammartino of Pacific Lutheran University for the NWC lead in goals scored with seven.

"This was a great rivalry game," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "Linfield was at their best tonight and really made us raise our level of play to win."

Charlton opened the scoring at 13:13 on a shot from 10 yards out following a rebound directly in front of the goal. It was the seventh goal scored by Willamette in the first 15 minutes of games this season.

The Bearcats extended their advantage to 2-0 when Ballinger scored at 31:06. He earned the goal on a header from six yards. He was assisted on the play by Omar Dominguez Pascasio (So., M/D, Madras, OR/Madras HS) and Yuta Suga (So., M, Urawa, Japan/RKU).

Linfield pulled within a single goal just 1:38 into the second half on a goal by Ryan Kister. He shot form 12 yards out into the right side of the goal. The goal gave the Wildcats momentum and they went on to outshoot the Bearcats 11-3 in the second half. Linfield's efforts to push the game on the attack led to the tying goal on a shot by Connor Heintz at 65:17. The goal followed a shot by Malachi Stalberg that was saved by WU goalkeeper Mason Kelliher (Jr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College).

The tying goal was scored about two minutes after a shot by Ichigi could have given WU a 3-1 lead. The shot forced Linfield's goalie, Cameron Perron, to make a save.

Ballenger missed high on a header for Willamette at 67:12. A shot by Gerardo Perez of Linfield was saved by Kelliher at 75:26. A follow shot by Cesar Cruz went over the crossbar. After the second half ended with the teams still tied at 2-2, the game moved into the first of a possible two 10-minute, sudden-death overtime periods.

Linfield held a 17-13 advantage in total shots during the match, including a 10-8 edge in shots on goal. Willamette gained a 5-4 lead in corner kicks after earning a 2-1 margin in overtime. Cruz of Linfield led all players with five shots. Ichigi topped WU's offensive chart with four shots.

Kelliher provided the Bearcats with eight saves on the night. Perron made five saves for the Wildcats.

Willamette will play at Whitman College on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Walla Walla, Washington. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. (PDT).

Hikaru Ichigi

Big Moment of the Game for Willamette

Hikaru Ichigi sent the ball under Linfield's diving goalie
on a shot from six yards out to score the winning
goal in Willamette's 3-2 triumph over the archrival
Wildcats in a Northwest Conference night game.
Ichigi's goal brought WU's overall record to 10-1-1
and kept the Bearcats undefeated in the NWC with
a 7-0-0 mark.