FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Playing perhaps one of the biggest matches in program history, the Linfield women’s soccer team had to settle for a 0-0 stalemate after two overtime periods against Pacific in a game ripe with playoff potential Friday afternoon at Lincoln Park Stadium.
With the tie, the Wildcats (13-3-3, 10-2-3 NWC) drop out of a first-place tie with Puget Sound with one match remaining in the regular season. Linfield must win against Pacific Lutheran at home Saturday and hope the Boxers (10-5-4, 7-4-4 NWC) either tie or defeat Puget Sound to give Linfield its first postseason appearance in program history. Pacific plays UPS in Tacoma Saturday at noon.
In a match that will be remembered more for its defense than for its offense, neither club had much to show for the first 45 minutes of play, combining for just seven shots. Despite controlling possession for most of the first half, Linfield struggled to maintain control of the ball or find an open player inside 10 yards to get a real shot at the goal.
However, the ‘Cats did have the only shot on frame of the first period, and a good one at that, in the 36th minute. Anna Sours drove the right side of the box, leaving the ball for an open Julia Vaughan. But Vaughan’s shot to the right corner of the net was deftly knocked away by Pacific goalkeeper Brittany Hartmann, who had to fully extend her body to get the deflection.
The opening minutes of the second half saw a considerable increase in offensive intensity from both sides. Linfield nearly put one away early when the Boxer goalie bobbled a shot taken from the left side of the field by Sours, but Hartmann managed to keep the ball in front of the line to hold the score at 0-0.
Not to be outdone, Wildcat keeper Taylor Collinsworth made a few big plays of her own. In the 55th minute, Pacific was awarded a free kick near the top of the goal box after a yellow card was charged to Linfield. Shekema McCarthy hit a good ball, but a diving Collinsworth knocked it away on the left side of the goal. Over the next 30 seconds, the Linfield defense survived two additional shots and a corner kick to keep the home team off the scoreboard.
The 'Cats had a great look at the goal in the 64th minute, but a cross from Zoe Langdorf to MacKenzie Doty was just high, forcing Doty’s header to sail wide left.
Collinsworth made another stellar save in the 80th minute, when the 5-foot-4-inch keeper leapt to the top of the goal to punch away a shot taken by Kaitlyn Harper.
In the first overtime period, Linfield outshot Pacific 3-2, coming painstakingly close to scoring on two of those chances. First, in the 94th minute, Emily Allison launched a beautiful shot that crossed from the left to right sides of the box. The ball began to curve back toward the goal, but an airborne Hartmann dove left, making a spectacular save to deny the ‘Cats the game-winning goal. Linfield then took three corner kicks over the next minute, but a header by Jenna Quiring on the last kick hit the crossbar.
The Boxers produced the only two shots of the second overtime period, but one was wide and the other was saved by Collinsworth with two seconds remaining as the clubs walked away from the field after 110 minutes in a 0-0 tie.
For the game, Pacific outshot Linfield 17-15 and also earned seven corner kicks to six. The Boxers’ Hartmann ended up with five saves; Collinsworth had four for the ‘Cats.
NEXT: The Wildcats host Pacific Lutheran in the regular-season finale Saturday at noon. Four seniors will be honored prior to the match: Doty, Quiring, Amy Kestek and Allison Riggs.