Oct. 8, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. - John Reha scored a goal and assisted on two others and keeper Vito Higgins recorded his second straight shutout as Gonzaga University posted a 4-0 West Coast Conference men's soccer victory over Saint Mary's College on Sunday.
The win was the first of the WCC campaign for the Bulldogs (4-5-2; 1-3-1) while the Gaels (4-5-4; 2-2-1) were swept on their weekend trek to the Pacific Northwest after losing Friday at the University of Portland.
"We played well today," Gonzaga head coach Einar Thorarinsson said. "The offense came to life and we had a lot of guys play hard today. I thought our freshmen also played well."
Higgins, who recorded a shutout in Friday's 0-0 deadlock against 17th-ranked Santa Clara University, had four saves in Sundays' match in earning his third shutout of the season and the seventh of his career. His three shutouts tie him with Josh Fouts for fifth on the Gonzaga single-season list, and his seven career shutouts moved the junior from Kailua, Hawai'i, who is currently fourth all-time, closer to Mike McCarthy's 13 which currently ranks third on the all-time charts.
Higgins had a couple of big saves, and one huge assist from his defense in recording the shutout. Early in the match the Gaels' Corey Heldreth took a shot off a corner kick by Dylan Leslie, the ball headed for the far post only to see the Bulldogs' Ben Sawyer sweep in to clear the ball. In the 73rd minute Matthew Fitzgerald had a header off a corner that Higgins stopped at the near post, SMC players near the play claiming the ball had crossed the goal line. In the 86th minute Higgins made a diving stop to his right off a low, hard shot from 25 yards off a free kick by Alex Christlieb.
While Higgins was holding the Gaels at bay, the Gonzaga offense scored four goals for the third time this season, the Bulldogs downing UNLV 4-1 at home in the season opener and Oregon State University 4-1 on the road. It was the first time the Bulldogs had scored four goals in a WCC match since defeating Loyola Marymount University 4-1 at home on Oct. 21, 2001.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard early, George Josten scoring his WCC-leading seventh goal of the season at 6:51. His shot from the right side came off a cross from Reha that set Josten up with a wide-open right side of the net, a SMC defender arriving too late to clear the ball as it was across the line. It was Josten's first goal in five matches after getting six goals in the first six matches of the season, and his 24th career tally. He has been fourth on the Gonzaga career list since early in the season. His 58 career points also rank fourth.
Reha came right back 76 seconds later to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead, Chris Hoyd with a blind flick to Reha who, like Josten had a wide open right side of the net to shoot at. It was Reha's second goal of the season.
Gonzaga all but put the match away early in the second half, Grant Lundberg, who had several rushes in the match, finally found the net at 48:22. He took a pass from Reha on the left wing, dribbled in on Gaels' keeper Keenen Flynn, deked Flynn to commit to his right and shot into the open net to the far side for his third goal of the season. As if the Bulldogs need any insurance, they got it at 62:02 when Bryan Mullaney scored his first goal of the season on a rebound. Austin Washington had fed Tye Perdido on the right wing and Flynn came out to make the save. But the rebound went right to Mullaney who found the back of the net.
Gonzaga held a 9-7 edge in shots. Flynn had two saves for the Gaels, while Higgins had four for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs, who returned home this weekend for the first time since Aug. 27, will meet the University of Portland in a home-and-home series this weekend. The Bulldogs will be at Portland on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. match then host the Pilots at 2 p.m. on Sunday.