The men’s soccer team starts conference play this week after finishing preseason play with games
against Corban College and Concordia University, Sept. 10 and 11. The ’Cats beat Corban and lost to
Concordia in the hard-fought games at home.
In their third preseason game, the men won 2-1 over Corban in a thrilling victory, despite being down 0-1
Head coach Ian Lefebvre used the halftime to motivate the team.
“He knew that we could play better than what we showed in the first half,” senior Kevin Donato said. “He
told us to pick it up, that it was on us to give the game away or take it from them.”
Linfield rallied in the second half, scoring off of a penalty kick by senior Carter Elhabbassi and a goal from
Donato in the second overtime.
The Wildcats played tenacious defense in the last minutes of the game, not allowing a single Corban
Senior Michel Camacho said the team’s attention is on the defensive end.
“The main focus this year has been defense. It’s been more than lacking the past few years,” Camacho
said. “It’s been the source of our problems. We’ve noticed that we’ve been growing defensively as a team.
A lot of it is effort, and a lot of it is learning to play together. It’s easy to see that we’re improving.”
Concordia came to McMinnville
the next night to play Linfield in its final preseason game. The game was a match of defensive execution,
as neither team had scored by halftime. However, in the second half, Concordia found enough offense to
overcome a strong defensive effort from Linfield, winning the game 2-1.
The men’s team finished the preseason with a record of 1-2-1. Last season, it finished preseason 1-3-1.
But despite the similar record, Camacho and Donato noted
areas of improvement.
“The work ethic is there, more than it has been in previous years,” Camacho said. “As a program and a
team, we’ve figured out the effort that has been needed to be successful in the league.”
Donato also felt that player relationships were improving.
“Chemistry is getting better with players,” Donato added. “It’s something we are trying to improve on.”
Linfield opens its conference schedule this weekend, with a couple of games in Tacoma, Wash. After
matching up with Puget Sound University and Pacific Lutheran University on Sept. 18 and 19, respectively,
the men come back to McMinnville to face off against Pacific University for their first home game on Sept.
The players know the conference is tough but have high expectations for this season, and they hope to
improve on last year’s 5-13-1 record.
“We’re always looking to improve,” Donato said. “I felt last year was pretty disappointing.”
The team will get to take the first hopeful step toward a successful season on Sept. 18, when it plays
Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at email@example.com.