Linfield finished the weekend with a 3-3 conference record and a 4-5-1 overall record.
The ’Cats faced a stern challenge with the arrival of the Whitworth on Oct. 2. The Pirates drew first blood, with Whitworth sophomore forward Kekoa Mountcastle scoring in the 12th minute. Whitworth junior forward Jessie Retan slipped in a goal 10 minutes later to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Linfield struggled to score during the game, managing only six shots at the goal. Senior midfielder Colin Bebee attempted half of the team’s shots. His closest was a header in the 26th minute.
Senior midfielder Michel Camacho offered a reason for the lack of shot attempts.
“We came out strong, but as the game progressed, we struggled to keep up with the tempo of the game as well as keep possession of the ball,” he said. “That created the chances they got and was probably a reason why we got so few chances.”
Whitworth junior goalkeeper Brian Sherpe caught Bebee’s header, and a later goal by Pirates’ midfielder Cameron Bushey put the game out of reach. Sherpe finished the game with four saves, and Whitworth defeated Linfield 3-0.
“Whitworth is probably the best team in the league right now,” Camacho said. “They’re definitely organized and technical. It was difficult matching up with them.”
On Oct. 3, the ’Cats regrouped to defeat Whitman 2-1. After a scoreless first half, Camacho chipped in a goal past Whitman senior goalkeeper Tim Shu during the 70th minute to give the ’Cats a 1-0 lead.
Whitman then scored on its own goal a few minutes later when a Whitman defender attempted to clear the ball but knocked it into the net instead.
A goal by Whitman midfielder Sam Freedman during the 78th minute put the score at 2-1 in favor of Linfield, and the Missionaries would get no closer.
Camacho said he felt like the team improved on its performance from the day before.
“We came out strong. We were able to control the game more by keeping the ball — something we couldn’t do against Whitworth,” he said.
Next up for the ’Cats is a match with the Willamette University. Willamette holds a 3-6-2 overall record and a 1-4-1 conference record.
Linfield can attempt plenty of shots against a Bearcats team that has been badly outshot by opponents this season. Overall, the Bearcats have attempted 88 shots, while their competition has attempted 181 — a 93-shot difference.
On the other hand, Linfield has outshot its competition this season. The ’Cats have attempted 147 shots this season to the competition’s 128. Linfield has also outscored its opponents 19-16, while Willamette has been outscored 10-14.
Camacho and sophomore forward Danny Snelgrow lead the team in shot attempts with 35 and 34, respectively.
The ’Cats have allowed 16 goals this season, which is not bad. But for a team that has been stressing defense all season, it’s a number they will have to keep down. For perspective, the top two teams in the conference, Pacific and Whitworth universities, have both allowed fewer than 10 goals by the competition.
The ’Cats have a chance to even up their overall record with a win against Willamette University on Oct. 9.
Camacho said he knows that Linfield is capable of beating the Bearcats, but it will be up to the team to show up and take the game.
“It will by no means be an easy game. They’re strong in the back but have had some trouble scoring goals, like us,” Camacho said. “It’s just a matter of us going out and taking care of the game.”
Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.