Conference play for the men’s soccer team began Sept. 18 and 19. Linfield lost to University of Puget Sound and beat Pacific Lutheran University to finish the weekend with a 1-1 conference record.
The Wildcats dropped their first conference game against Puget Sound, 1-2, in a muddy, rainy battle. The Loggers got on the scoreboard early with two first half goals on just four shots.
But Wildcat seniors Michel Camacho and Jon Thompson said they weren’t convinced that the goals should have counted. They agreed that the referee incorrectly called a handball on a Wildcat, and that Puget Sound’s second goal was scored after time expired in the first half.
“The two goals scored on us were questionable,” Camacho said.
In spite of the unclear calls, he said that the team wasn’t up to par.
“Overall, I thought the team didn’t play well,” Camacho said.
Linfield scored its only goal in the second half. Camacho sent a pass to freshman Michael Swain, who slipped a shot in past the Puget Sound
goalkeeper. The ’Cats failed to score again, despite outshooting the Loggers, 16-13.
“I felt like we lacked focus, which ended up costing us the game,” Camacho said. “We couldn’t finish the chances we got in the first half.”
“We dug our own grave,” he said. “At the same time, we got sucked into their game.”
Linfield bounced back against Pacific Lutheran on Sept. 19. After losing their previous six meetings with the Lutes, the Wildcats prevailed 3-2.
Although Pacific Lutheran outshot Linfield by a wide margin (20-9), the ’Cats built a 3-0 lead. Camacho scored Linfield’s first goal off of an assist from freshman Tyler Repic. In the second half, the ’Cats quickly scored two more goals, one from senior Carter Elhabbassi, which was assisted by freshman Andre Brobakken, and a second from freshman Harper Taylor — his first goal of the season.
In the second half, the game’s momentum turned in favor of Pacific Lutheran. Outshooting the ‘Cats 14-3, the Lutes rattled off two goals late in the game.
Thompson said that Pacific Lutheran was the aggressor in the second half and that the team began playing back on their heels.
“They took advantage of us sitting back,” Thompson said. “We don’t want to let up. We can’t just shut off during those last 20 minutes; it needs to be a full 90-minute effort.”
The Wildcats withstood a barrage of shots from the Lutes in the closing minutes and won 3-2.
Linfield competes with Northwest conference leader Pacific University in the ’Cats home-opener at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 25. With a 6-0-1 record this season, the Boxers will provide a strong test.
However, Camacho said that, when they are on top of their game, Linfield can beat anybody.
“Pacific is always a battle. In the end it’s still going to come down to how well we execute our game plan and if we can show up for the game,” he said. “We showed it this weekend by beating PLU, a team we haven’t beat in a long time. Not only can we play with anyone in the league but we can beat anyone in the league.”
Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at email@example.com.