Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team suffered its first setback of the season at East Field, falling 2-0 to Northwest Conference rival Whitman College on Sunday afternoon to cap off the weekend homestand. Visiting Whitman controlled the ball for the majority of both halves en route to the win.
The Lutes (3-4-2, 1-2-1 NWC) jumped out early with a shots from Eddie Na and Bennett Bugbee, but were unable to come away with a goal. From there, the Blues (3-6, 2-2 NWC) took possession and tested the Lute defense for the remainder of the half, but the Lutes held them scoreless, going into halftime tied 0-0.
The Blues kept pushing after the intermission, and finally broke through in the 52nd minute for their first goal, as CJ Fritz scored on a header. After a brief chance for Na to score again fell short, the Blues made another push that yielded another score, as Ben Freedman scored off of a pass from Thomas Sean.
The Lutes saw a few more opportunities to score come up empty, including a near score off of a header from Zachary Manao. Ultimately, the Blues' ball control proved to be too much for the Lutes, as they held on to win 2-0.
RJ Noll tallied a pair of saves in goal, logging all 90 minutes between the posts for PLU. Whitman's Owen Davis-Bower collected the clean sheet, making four saves.
"It was a frustrating match today. We came out with hopes to bounce back from yesterday's performance and carry on with the performance that we had in the second half, but we were a bit flat and a bit hesitant, and we couldn't get ourselves firing on all cylinders," goalkeeper coach Willy Leiste said.
The Lutes travel down to Oregon to face George Fox University and Pacific University next weekend, and two wins could bring the Lutes back into the top half of the conference standings.
"We really need to dig deep and find out who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to make of this season. We've got to restart on a few things, and really pinpoint where things could get better."