Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College women's soccer team earned a hard fought 4-0 victory over Benedictine University Saturday night as they collected their first win of 2014 in impressive fashion in front of a crowd of over 300 strong at the Donald E. Graham Soccer Field.
A year ago a total of ten goals were scored in 19 contests with three being the most scored in one game against Occidental College on October 12.
The Poets got off on the right foot against the Eagles scoring four goals with two coming from senior captain Madison Shipherd (Whittier, Calif.) and two from freshman Lauren Kai (Torrance, Calif.) in her Purple & Gold debut.
"Overall, we played well," explained Head Coach Monica Gerardo. "Our defense was better organized from front to back and offensively, we created chances and put them away as well." "We've brought in some more offensive weapons to help Maddy, to take some pressure off of her. We saw some of that tonight."
Whittier controlled both ends of the field posting their first shutout since the 2012 season when they beat Marian (Wisc.) 6-0, Whitman (1-0), and Pomona-Pitzer (1-0). This was Sophomore Alexi Cruz' (Long Beach, Calif.) first shutout of her career saving both shots she faced, one which came midway through the second half from just outside the box. The Eagles had a good look over the wall but Cruz dove to her right outstretched poking the ball away keeping the shutout intact.
A minute into the game, Whittier had the first look on goal, with Shipherd controlling the ball in the box coming off of a defender and missing wide. She ended up with a game high eight shots with five being on goal. Kai would end up tallying the first goal of 2014 for the Poets at the 14:34 mark. She received a cross in the box from Kaela Reisfelt (Castaic, Calif.) which she finished to the top left corner of the goal.
Minutes later, the lead would extend to two when Shipherd finished a corner kick coming from Leila Afrasiyabi (Los Angeles, Calif.) and would then add her second of the game minutes before the end of the first half when she headed in a corner kick from Ashley Stanford (Walnut, Calif.) that gave the Purple & Gold a 3-0 lead at the break.
Out of the half, Whittier continued where they left off with Kai adding her second goal of the game coming off a corner kick from Stanford. This would be the final score of the game as Whittier would crack down on the defensive end grabbing their first victory of the season.
For the game, Whittier outshot Benedictine 18-4 and held the advantage on corner kicks 7-1.
"The first win is always a slight weight off the shoulders, for everyone," stated Gerardo. "But we enjoy it and we learn from it. Now our focus shifts to preparation for two games next weekend."
Whittier returns to action next weekend, September 6-7 for two games as they travel to UC Santa Cruz to take on the Banana Slugs and Whitman.