By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Eighteen shots. That’s how much the Western Mennonite offense got off against the Illinois Valley defense Wednesday afternoon at Salem Academy.
Of those 18 shots, two resulted in scores. One of them came when Luke ‘Skywalker’ Williams showed that the force was with him in his first-half goal that was later matched in the second half by teammate Garrett Volbeda against the Cougars during the game.
“I think it was great, the games before we would be lacking the shots and it would kick us in the butt and we weren’t getting goals because we weren’t getting shots,” said Williams. “So it’s nice to start getting shots off and start attacking as a offense.”
To keep the score at 2-nil after Volbeda’s goal, they had to rely on Sean Webster and the Pioneer defensive back-line and midfielders to ensure that Illinois Valley wouldn’t comeback, something that Webby and his defense did down to near-perfection against the Cougs offense in the 2-0 win Wednesday.
“All I could say right now it felt really good you know, I feel like the first half we came out flat, the second half we kind of got into it,” said Webster. “Everyone did their part and we came out with the win.”
The win pushes the Western Mennonite program into the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2011, that year the Pioneers would lose a tough one to Dayton 2-1 and will have their hands full against the third-ranked Catlin Gabel Saturday at their place.
The Eagles won 4-1 over Cascade Christian Wednesday in Portland to ensure the match-up Saturday and Western Mennonite knows they’ll need to bring it come kickoff.
“From the very get-go, we got to come out strong, we came out a little sluggish today and it kind of showed. But I think when we play the next team, we just need to come out harder and be ready to play,” said Williams. “It’s the warm-ups a lot. A lot of it is the warm-ups, we were sluggish in warm-ups today.
“It’s also the day-before. We got to get mentality-ready before school starts if it’s on a school day and kind of work up to it as we go.”
Webster pointed to communication as key as they look to do what no other team has yet done this season in handing Catlin Gabel a loss.
“Definitely communication, I’ve said all year long that’s the biggest thing for us,” said Webster. “When we don’t communicate, we don’t play well. When we communicate, we play amazing. That’s all it takes.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald