Whits Savor October Win against Fox

News Release Date:
Saturday, October 20

WALLA WALLA — Whitman College’s men’s soccer team savored the taste of victory here Saturday afternoon as the Missionaries outscrapped visiting George Fox University 2-0 in a Northwest Conference battle.

Whitman’s last victory came against University of Puget Sound on Sept. 29, a 2-1 overtime victory also on the Missionaries’ pitch. In the ensuing four matches, the Whits went 0-2-2, a string of four games in which they failed to score while taking their opponents to double-overtime twice and to single-overtime in a third match.

So it’s easy to understand why veteran head coach Mike Washington breathed a sigh of relief when senior Leland Matthaeus, a forward/midfielder from Redmond, Wash., played a role in both of Whitman’s second-half goals that propelled the Missionaries to victory.

“That was nice for him,” Washington said of Matthaeus, who broke a scoreless deadlock with an unassisted goal at the 48:18 mark and then assisted sophomore forward Bill Landefeld (Kennewick) 29 minutes later for what proved to be an unneeded insurance goal.

Matthaeus, who now has five goals on the season, was one of the players Washington counseled before the match to play with patience and let the game come to him.

“If you go back over our record and look at all the losses, we have been playing great defense,” Washington said. “We haven’t been giving up many goals, but the reverse side of that is we haven’t been scoring many, either.

“I think it comes down to when you are struggling to get goals, instead of relaxing sometimes the effort you put in is so intense that you don’t relax enjoy the game. A simple tap-in is just as good as a 25-yard shot, and that’s what Leland did today.”

Matthaeus’ tap-in goal came after sophomore midfielder Joe Virdon (Richland) got behind the George Fox defense and fired a shot that deflected off the crossbar. Matthaeus was Johnny-on-the-spot and easily tapped in the game’s first goal.

“It was a simple goal for Leland,” Washington said. “And it goes unassisted, even though Joe’s shot made it happen. But it wasn’t an intended pass, therefore no assist.”

On Whitman’s second goal, it was Matthaeus who dribbled inside the Bruins’ defense and cut the ball across the field to Landefeld, who whistled the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards out. It was Landefeld’s first goal of the season.

“That was a nice goal for Bill,” Washington said of Landefeld. “He finished it nicely.”

Whitman outshot George Fox 28-6, including a 19-2 advantage in a first half that for 45 minutes extended the Missionaries’ scoring frustration. Bruins goalkeeper Elliott Davis deflected 11 Whitman shots on goal on the day while the Whits’ Michael Bathurst, a senior from Portland, Ore., stopped all three of George Fox’s on-goal attempts as he improved his personal record to 5-7-2.

George Fox was whistled for 25 fouls in the game, a stat that was not lost on Washington.

“They are a difficult team to play, pretty physical,” Washington said of the Bruins. “I think they are a little disruptive in their style of play, a lot of ticky-tacky fouls like grabbing and holding and pushing.

“It’s just one of the issues you have to deal with to stay in the game.”

Whitman improved its conference record to 3-5-2 and was 5-8-3 overall going into Sunday’s home match against Pacific. The Boxers lost to Whitworth University 2-0 in Spokane Friday and brought a 2-8-0 league record and a 4-11-0 overall mark into Sunday’s game.

George Fox was in Spokane Sunday to face the league-leading Pirates, who are 8-0-2 in the NWC and 11-0-3 overall.

In other games Saturday, University of Puget Sound (5-1-4, 9-2-5) defeated Linfield (4-6-0, 6-8-0) 2-0 and Pacific Lutheran University (7-2-1, 8-5-2) throttled Willamette (4-5-1, 7-7-1) by a 3-1 count.

Linfield played at PLU and Willamette invaded UPS in Sunday’s other matches.

“We have four games left, counting Sunday,” Washington said. “We have got to try and always push ourselves to win games, even if there is nothing on the line as far as the standings are concerned. We are playing for pride.

“Our target every year is to make a better program. It’s important to play for this year, to send our seniors out in good fashion, and it’s important to play for future years.

“The players all know how passionately if feel for this game and for this team, and it’s a team thing for all of us.”