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McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Just minutes after Pacific Lutheran knotted the score at 1-1, Emily Fellows scored her conference-leading 13th goal of the season, spoiling Pacific Lutheran's bid to tie or upset 24th-ranked Linfield on an overcast Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
An exciting four-minute stretch in the early phases of the second half saw the Lutes tie the match on a Courtney Randall goal, only to have the Wildcats wrestle the lead right back on Fellows' second score of the afternoon.
Fellows had given Linfield a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute of action, and recorded her sixth game winning goal of the season with 35 minutes to play to push the Wildcats' record to 10-1 overall, and 6-1 in the Northwest Conference.
Possession exchanged feet with frequency over the opening minutes, though Linfield managed to penetrate far enough into the box for Molly McCool to put up three shots within a 6½-minute span
Pacific Lutheran (5-3-3, 3-1-1 NWC) built an attack about 11 minutes in, and earned a corner kick for its efforts. Lena Moreno served the ball into the box, where Linfield keeper Kallina Haase punched it out. Hannah Bush quickly fired back a rebound shot, but her header sailed high. A few minutes later, Bush looked to be the playmaker, sending in a high cross from the left side and finding Samantha Benner, but again, the Lutes came away empty as Benner's header went into the right side netting.
After the scare on their defensive end, the Wildcats wasted little time putting some distance between themselves and the Lutes, scoring on their next look at goal. Emma Vukic sent in a cross that PLU keeper Marisa Gonzalez smacked down to the grass, though not far enough out of the danger zone. With no defenders nearby to clear the ball, Fellows had an easy opportunity to tap it into the net from just a couple of yards out, giving Linfield a 1-0 advantage.
Looking for more breathing room, the ‘Cats continued to be aggressive on their offensive half of the pitch. With about 10 minutes to go before halftime, speedy Marisa Specht weaved through defenders down the left side of the box and set up Tegan Grunwald, whose shot sailed well above the crossbar. Minutes later, McCool looked to have headed in a second goal, but the freshman forward was called offside.
The teams headed into the halftime break fairly close, statistically speaking, with Linfield outshooting PLU 7-3 but the Lutes owning the corner kick battle 3-1.
Linfield earned two corner kicks within two minutes of the second-half whistle, but could not capitalize. With the match still in reach, Pacific Lutheran pushed downfield. Randall dribbled up the right side and fired a shot toward the far post, out of Haase's reach, to bring the teams even.
The ‘Cats responded with several good looks at goal, but it was not until the fourth try of the half that they put the ball through the pipes. Ellie Schmidt sent in a long cross from beyond the penalty box to Fellows, who snuck in a header just inside the left post.
Kaylie Rozell nearly tied the match again with back-to-back looks at goal, but came away empty. The freshman Lute worked her way into the box and fired off a shot that pinged the crossbar, and then gathered the rebound and took aim again. That second look was cleared by the defense, however, preserving the Wildcat lead.
Haase, making her first start since an away match at Whitman, made just one save in earning her seven win of the season.
Randall led the Lutes – who did not earn a single corner kick in the second half – with three shots on goal.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Fellows recorded her fifth multiple-goal match and has scored in eight of 10 contests in 2013…Linfield surrendered the sixth goal to a conference opponent through seven NWC contests…the Wildcats defeated the Lutes for the seventh straight match…PLU's last win against Linfield was a 7-2 victory back in 2009.
AHEAD: Linfield concludes its three-match homestand with a Sunday tilt against third-place Lewis & Clark at noon.