Team has crucial games ahead

Sophomore Harper Taylor heads the ball as senior Colin Bebee pushes off University of Puget Sound senior Peter Russell on Oct. 24. The ’Cats won 2-0 against the Loggers. Victor Zhu/Freelancer

Men’s soccer lost to Pacific Lutheran University on Oct. 23 before defeating the University of Puget Sound on Oct. 24.
The ’Cats’ rainy battle against a strong PLU team concluded with a 1-2 defeat.
Senior midfielder Carter Elhabbassi scored early for the ’Cats, lacing in a goal off of an assist from senior midfielder Kevin Donato — his seventh assist of the season.
But the Lutes held the ’Cats scoreless in the final 70 minutes of play.
Junior forward Spencer Augustin scored for the Lutes in the 25th minute. Pacific Lutheran outshot the ’Cats 9-4 in the first half.
In the second half junior, PLU forward Surafel Wodajo set up sophomore midfielder Mark Lee for a goal, giving Pacific Lutheran a 2-1 lead. The Lutes held on to the victory behind solid play from freshman goalkeeper Joe Rayburn.
Rayburn finished the game with four saves.
Sophomore goalkeeper Cody Tipton finished with six saves for the ’Cats, who were outshot 15-7.
Linfield regrouped to edge out Puget Sound 2-0 the next day.
Sophomore forward Harper Taylor drew first blood for Linfield, scoring his second goal of the season in the 35th minute.
Senior midfielder Kevin Donato laced a pass into the box, where senior midfielder Colin Bebee fed Harper for the score.
Freshman forward Tyler Repic added to the lead in the second half, striking the ball past Loggers sophomore goalkeeper Chris McDonald and into the net.
Tipton earned his second shutout of the year, finishing the game with three saves. He said he was satisfied with how the team played against its rivals.
“I feel we played with more heart than I have seen so far this season,” he said.
With the win, the ’Cats hold a 7-7-1 overall record and a 6-5 conference record.
The ’Cats face stiff competition in the coming weeks, as the season nears its end.
Tipton said the final games are important to the team, and he pointed to conference standings implications.
“These last three games are huge for us,” he said. “Everyone is so close to each other in points that one game could be the difference between second and sixth.”
Taylor agreed with Tipton. He said he expects the coming games against Whitman College and Whitworth University will be challenging but crucial to win.
“We have our toughest road trip of the season this weekend, and we are playing a couple of the top teams in our league,” he said.“For us to win both games this weekend, we need to show up both mentally and physically. Whitman and Whitworth aren’t just going to hand us the victory; it’s going to be a battle that all 11 players on the field have to acknowledge.”
Elhabbassi stressed the importance of the final games as well.
“It is all about pride now,” he said. “We don’t want to look back at the season and see that we finished sixth when we really can still theoretically finish in first.”
Elhabbassi is looking forward to the future of the team. He said winning will draw new players to the school.
“Winning also helps the program for the future with recruits because they would rather go to a school that finished higher in the standings,” he said.
Tipton echoed the sentiments of Elhabbassi, claiming success can help bring in talent.
“The better we play now, the easier it will be to win next year,” he said.
While the team races to the finish line and fatigue sets in, Taylor said the team draws motivation from its seniors.
“The real motivation factor, much like it is every year, comes from our seniors,” he said. “Their drive and determination help motivate us all, because we not only want to win for ourselves, but we want to win for them too.”
The ’Cats begin their late-season push against Whitman on Oct. 30.

Matt Bayley/Staff reporter
Matt Bayley can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

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