By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's soccer team defeated George Fox University, 2-0, on Saturday, Sept. 29, while holding 61% of the possession at Sparks Field. With such a significant amount of ball control, the Bearcats outshot the Bruins 19-6. More importantly, the Bearcats created eight shots on goal compared to just one shot on target for the Bruins. WU advanced its record to 6-2-1, including 3-1 in the Northwest Conference. GFU fell to 3-6-1 on the season, 0-4 in the NWC.
Willamette was able to keep the ball for much of the first half after taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Edwin Ortiz (Fy., M, Salem, OR/North Salem HS) at 5:55. Ortiz scored directly on a corner kick, as he sent the ball toward the far post. The ball eluded the Bruins and on-rushing Bearcats on its way into the side netting near the far post.
The Bearcats maintained their 1-0 advantage for the rest of the first half and the first 36 minutes of the second half. Yushiro Shiomi (So., D, Kyoto, Japan/TIUA) of Willamette changed the score by kicking a shot into the goal at 81:22. He beat a defender just outside the right edge of the six-yard box and blasted a shot just inside the post as GFU goalie Cole Benton tried to move over in time for a save.
"We are very happy with getting the win today and keeping the clean sheet against two consecutive opponents (WU won at Pacific 4-0 on Saturday)."
— Willamette Head Coach Jared Rust
Tam Proctor (So., F, Seattle, WA/The Northwest School) didn't end up on the scoresheet for the Bearcats, but he had three shots -- two on goal -- in the first half. He forced Benton to make a save on a shot at 14:30, and later took a shot at 38:28 that a defender cleared away from the goal line.
Other key attackers for Willamette were Ryan Sato (So., MF, Sunnyvale, CA/Homestead HS), Carter McCleary (Jr., F, Port Hadlock, WA/Chimacum HS) and Nicholas Ballenger (Sr., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS/Oregon State Univ.). All were very strong in keeping possession on the attack and breaking down the defense to create scoring chances. Sato led all players with four shots, while McCleary and Ballenger each took two shots.
WU defender Max Berner-Hays (Jr., D, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) led the defensive effort for the Bearcats. Berner-Hays, the 2018 NWC Defensive Player of the Year, was strong in the air on defense and connected well with defenders and midfielders. He also excelled in the air on offense, as he earned three shots. Willamette goalkeeper Mason Kelliher (Sr., GK, Wellington, N.Z./Wellington College) protected the penalty area and registered one save on his way to the complete-game shutout.
Kelliher has accumulated nine solo shutouts and two shared shutouts in his career with the Bearcats, while earning a 0.73 career goals against average. This year, he has a 0.67 GAA, four solo shutouts and one shared shutout.
Jared McInnes led GFU with two shots. Benton finished the game with four saves for the Bruins, while two defenders were credited with clearing a shot away from the goal line.
The Bearcats are slated to return to action on Saturday, Oct. 5 at University of Puget Sound. Game time in Tacoma, Washington, for the NWC match-up is set for 12 p.m. (PDT).