NEWBERG, Ore. – Two unusual second-half goals and a penalty kick save by Alfredo Zuniga with three seconds left enabled the Willamette University Bearcats to hang on for a 3-2 win over the George Fox University Bruins in a wild Northwest Conference men’s soccer game Saturday afternoon here at the Austin Sports Complex.
The game began conventionally enough. Willamette took only three-and-a-half minutes to score as Brendan Dineen caught a cross on the left side of the penalty box, settled it, and sent it back to the middle for Adan Vazquez, who hooked it inside the left post from five yards out for his third goal of the season.
That early score held up until the 36th minute when the Bruins’ Michael Graham, just across the mid-field stripe, sent a long pass to Brennan Altringer streaking down the left sideline. Altringer took the ball to the baseline and crossed to Luke Hammer in the middle for an easy score into the right side of the net from about five yards away. It was the fifth goal of the year for Hammer, the Bruins’ leading scorer.
The score remained 1-1 until late in the second half. With 18 minutes left, the Bearcats’ Mike McGrew was fouled in the penalty box, and broke the tie with a liner to the left corner on the free kick. It was the fifth goal of the season for McGrew.
Twelve minutes later, the Bearcats added an insurance goal that would turn out to be the winner. With the Bruins jamming the offensive end of the field in an effort to tie the game, goalkeeper Elliott Davis came forward to angle a kick toward the sideline, but went it right to the Bearcats’ Erik Kaufman, who lofted a soft liner back over Davis from just inside the mid-field stripe that the George Fox goalie could not catch up with, the ball bouncing easily into the unprotected net at the 83:44 mark for his seventh goal of the season.
Not done yet, the Bruins closed with one with 87:34 left when Christian Reed, surrounded by Bearcats defenders near the left side of the box, managed to slip the ball through to Hammer, who was wide open for a goal inside the right post. It was Hammer’s second score of the game and his sixth of the season.
Scrambling to pick up a tie, the Bruins got the ball inside the box with less that ten seconds left and Willamette keeper Zuniga was whistled for a foul as he went for the ball in an effort to prevent a shot. Myles Zorokovsky stepped up to take the penalty kick with three ticks showing, and Zuniga guessed right, diving to his right and deflecting Zorokovsky’s hard shot toward the left post as time expired.
Willamette finished with a 23-16 advantage in overall shots and a 13-7 margin in shots on goal, though George Fox had more corner kick opportunities (5-4). Zuniga made five saves in earning the victory, while Davis was the hard-luck loser despite 10 saves. A total of 27 fouls were called (14 on George Fox, 13 on Willamette), with two yellow cards for each team.
NEXT: George Fox (2-9-1, NWC 0-7-1) remains home to take on Yamhill County rival Linfield College Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Bruins and Wildcats tied 1-1 in their first meeting on Sept. 24 in McMinnville ... Willamette (5-5-1, NWC 4-4) visits Pacific University Sunday at 2:30 p.m.