Win caps volatile soccer season

Rachel Mills

Review staff writer

After a tumultuous season for the women’s soccer team, the seniors ended their final season on a high note.

Senior midfielder Stephanie Castor’s last-minute goal during the Nov. 7 match against Pacific Lutheran University allowed Linfield a 1-0 win in its final game and gave Castor and her fellow seniors a fitting goodbye.

For the first 89 minutes of the game, the score remained tied at zero. Linfield dominated the offense during the first half, outshooting the Lutes 7-2.

Despite Linfield’s control on the offensive end, PLU struck fear into Wildcat hearts with two shots from senior forward Christina McDuffy in the 10th and 21st minutes.

The first shot deflected off  the crossbar, and a save  from sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Hasselblad sent the second shot in the same direction. Hasselblad quickly recovered to block a follow-up shot seconds later from PLU junior forward Karin Hatch.

Linfield held strong through the Lutes’ powerful shots, maintaining a 0-0 score at the end of the first half.

“We outplayed them,” senior defender Kelly McLeod said.

The second half nearly ended without any goals, but Castor’s shot during the 89th minute put Linfield on the scoreboard.

After a PLU foul in the left corner, Wildcat junior defender Rennika Doty sent a curving free kick into the penalty box.

Both teams scrambled for the ball, but Castor got a foot on it, firing a close-range shot past PLU senior goalkeeper senior Kamryn Morgan.

Castor’s shot brought a positive finish to a rough-and-tumble season for a team that experienced two head coaches in the course of three months after the resignation of Yi Lin Liu.

Decisions in practices and games, such as tactical changes and substitution and position rotation, created inconsistency within the team.

This inconsistency was one of the factors leading to a general sense of team frustration and ended in Liu’s resignation  Oct. 21.

After he stepped down, men’s assistant first-year coach Dominic Doty took the position and helped the team finish off its final three weeks.

Team unity remained an important part of the season for the players, and it was something that even Doty took note of.

“We had a group of girls who were committed, who worked hard, who came to every practice and who had really bonded with each other,” Doty said. “I couldn’t ask for much more.”

Despite the tumult and changes during the season, the team emerged with a record of 6-14 overall and 4-12 in the Northwest Conference, putting it in seventh place out of eight teams.       

“It’s been four rough years for soccer,” McLeod said, referring to the many head coaches she saw during the years she played for Linfield.

Coaches are already looking ahead to the 2009 season. The team will be graduating eight seniors in 2009, removing seven starting positions in its lineup. Doty said he believes the underclassmen will fill the void.

“It will give the younger players a chance to step up,” Doty said.

McLeod also recognized the coming talent dwelling within the younger players.

Doty expects to see good things from juniors Rachel Miles and Rennika Doty and sophomores Hasselblad and  Sarah Blake, all of who proved to be strong performers during the 2008 season.

With the returning talent, Doty thinks the team will have a chance to be very competitive in the 2009 season.

“We will have a chance to do something extremely special next year,” Doty said.

With all the uncertainty regarding coaching for the 2009 season, the future of the women’s soccer team is undecided.

All of these traits will be important for the next season, especially because the position of head coach is still up in the air.

“We don’t know what direction we’ll take,” Doty said. “Only time will tell.”

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