Nov. 15, 2009

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Elly Bulega's goal in the 83rd minute lifted Whitworth University to a 2-1 win over the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in the second round of the NCAA Division III men's soccer tournament on Saturday afternoon at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The Pirates (15-2-3) are headed to the tournament's round of 16 for the third time in school history. Whitworth will not find out its opponent until the completion of tonight's match between Trinity and Hardin-Simmons in Texas. The location of the sectional rounds will be announced on Monday.

CMS, which won the SCIAC tournament as a #4 seed and entered today's game on a five-match winning streak, ends its season at 12-8-2.

For the second game in a row Keith Kirsch (Sr., F, Colbert, Wash.) gave the Pirates a quick 1-0 lead. This time the Pirates stole the opening kick and applied immediate pressure that led to a pair of corner kicks. Kirsch headed in Cameron Bushey's (So., MF, Spokane, Wash.) second corner kick early in the second minute for his sixth goal of the year and his second of the national tournament.

CMS tied the match in the 51st minute when Jered Bernstein scored off of an assist by David Taylor.

The teams continued to battle throughout the rest of the half and the Stags actually finished with a 17-6 edge in total shots. But many of the attempts were from long distance and didn't actually threaten the Pirate goal. CMS had a slight edge in shots on goal at 5-4 and Whitworth's Brian Sherpe (So., GK, Centennial, Colo.) made four saves during the match.

Bulega's (Sr., F, Tacoma, Wash.) game-winner was set up by Nate Spanger (So., D, Rio Rancho, N.M.), who led a breakaway from midfield. He dribbled through the middle of the defense, then slotted a pass to the left side and Bulega finished from 12 yards. It was the sixth goal of the season for the 2009 NWC Offensive Player of the Year.

The Pirates are now 8-4-2 all time in the NCAA Division III tournament. The team's last two trips to the round of 16 occured in 2005, when Whitworth advanced to the final four, and in 2001 when the team fell to eventual national runner-up Redlands 1-0 in overtime.