by Kelsey Segren, Sports Information Assistant
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Chase Whitakker scored the match-winner in overtime to give the Linfield Wildcats the 2-1 victory over the visiting Whitworth Pirates in Saturday afternoon's Northwest Conference men's soccer opener.
The Pirates drop to 2-4-1 overall and begin NWC play 0-1. The Wildcats improve to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
Whitworth got on the scoreboard first thanks to a Linfield own goal on an unsuccessful attempt to clear the ball in the 19th minute. That turned out to be the only goal of the match for the Pirates.
Early in the second half, Whittaker tapped a pass over to Cesar Cruz-Espindola who tied up the match as he fired off a shot into the top right corner of the net, just outside the reach of Pirates goalkeeper Jesus Nunez.
Ethan Kem nearly gave the Pirates the lead off a free kick at the top of the box in the 79th minute, but Wildcats goalkeeper Cameron Perron made a great one-handed save, punching the ball out of play.
The Wildcats earned the win five minutes into overtime as Whitakker fired in a shot from 20 yards out for the match-winner. Cruz-Espindola was credited with the assist.
The match was tight throughout with the Pirates and Wildcats both attempting the same number of shots (16) and corner kicks (5). The Bucs finished with the advantage in shots on goal (10-7). Nunez tallied five saves and Perron finished with nine.
The Pirates finish off the NWC opening weekend with a match against Willamette tomorrow at noon.