Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
SPOKANE, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team wrapped up its trip to eastern Washington with a sensational 3-2 victory over host Whitworth University on Sunday. Two goals in the final three minutes helped the Lutes secure the late comeback victory, extending their unbeaten streak to seven games.
Hoping to continue on their six-game win streak, the host Pirates (8-7-1, 6-4-1) struck first in the 27th minute, as Micah Weller's shot was deflected by Lute goalie RJ Noll into the net in his attempt to save the shot. The Lutes (9-4-3, 7-2-2) evened things up just before the half, as Bennett Bugbee was assisted in netting his third goal of the season by Spencer Hokama in the 44th minute.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until late in the second half, despite the Pirates' barrage of 18 shot attempts in the half. Kyle Cacoyannis finally broke the split with a header in the 85th minute, assisted by Jonah Snyder.
The Lutes were left with just five minutes to complete the comeback, and they did even more than that. Spencer Hokama provided his first goal of the season at the perfect time, scoring with three minutes to play on an unassisted 20-yard shot. Then, with overtime looming, Eddie Na connected with Joe Sammartino, who fired the ball into the back of the net with just 39 seconds remaining. The Pirates late attempt to get back into the game came up empty, and the Lutes pulled away with the huge win.
"It was a great game by both teams," head coach John Yorke said. "Our team brought a great combination of grit and grind it out mentality along with some good soccer."
The Lutes now remain within a win of first place Willamette University, who came away with two wins on the weekend. The Lutes host the Bearcats next Saturday, in what is sure to be an electrifying match between the two top teams in the conference. For now, though, Yorke and his team can celebrate their scintillating performance as they prepare for next week's showdown.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys and they way they bounced back from yesterday's disappointing tie," Yorke said.
The Lutes will also square off against Linfield College after facing the Bearcats. All three teams have undergone immense changes since they last met in mid September, and the Lutes are hoping that their improvement since then will be enough to carry them to six points.