Grant Lucas – Sports editor. A 93rd-minute goal that lifted the University of Puget Sound over the Wildcats on Oct. 25 capped off a winless weekend for the Linfield men’s soccer team, which fell to Pacific Lutheran University the previous day.
The pair of losses dropped Linfield’s record to 4-7 in Northwest Conference play and 5-10-1 overall.
“Against PLU, we got down on ourselves too early,” junior Michel Camacho said. “Even though the score was close, we never really figured it out defensively.”
Camacho said that the UPS match was the story of their season, as mental lapses and a lack of focus cost the ’Cats a victory.
Senior Travis Isaacs found some positives in the matches, however.
“We finished strong,” he said. “We were able to fight back twice and even kept [UPS] on [its] heels.”
In the match against PLU, the Wildcats and Lutes combined for five first-half goals with Linfield trailing 3-2 at the break.
PLU sophomore Chad Kearns began the scoring less than three minutes into the contest off an assist from sophomore Spencer Augustin. Soon after, Kearns returned the favor, dishing out an assist to Augustin, who extended the Lute lead to 2-0.
Camacho, however, put the ’Cats back in the game with his third goal of the season, bringing Linfield to within one goal.
After PLU increased its lead in the 29th minute, when Lute senior Jason Bjorgo tallied his second goal of the season, Linfield senior Kurtis Wong headed in a score, bringing the tally to 3-2 entering halftime.
The Lutes pulled away after the 74th minute, when both Augustin and Kearns scored again, sealing the PLU victory.
The Lutes outshot the Wildcats 25-10 and recorded 10 corner kicks to the ’Cats’ five.
Wildcat freshman goalkeeper Cody Tipton played well in the box, however, making eight saves.
Linfield put up a fight against UPS on Oct. 25, but a late goal by UPS sophomore Sean Rice carried the NWC fourth-place Loggers to victory.
The match remained scoreless through the 76th minute until UPS senior Derek Woodworth found the back of the net, giving the Loggers a late lead.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Camacho tallied his fourth goal of the season with a strike from 15 yards out.
In overtime, Rice rebounded a shot that deflected off the goal post and blasted it into the empty net, recording his fifth goal of the season and the game-winning score.
Although the Wildcats outshot the Loggers 7-1 in the first half, the ’Cats couldn’t find many scoring opportunities in the second and didn’t record any corner kick attempts.
As the season winds down, Camacho and Isaacs agreed that the team’s goal is to finish on a positive note: three straight wins.
“It’s something we know is possible as long as we play to our potential,” Camacho said.
Next, Linfield begins its final NWC home stand, hosting Whitman College on Oct. 31. The ’Cats then face Whitworth University in McMinnville on Nov. 1.
“We know we have nothing to lose now, so we might as well spoil someone’s season,” Isaacs said. “Whitman and Whitworth are competitively strong. I think we’re going to upset the balance of the league this weekend.”
Isaacs said the focus of these games will be defense. He said the team also picked apart what happened this past weekend and analyzed what it did wrong and where it succeeded.
“We just need to keep our composure and stay mentally strong,” he said.