McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield rookie Jake Baker converted a game-winning penalty kick as Linfield started the 2012 season with a bang, claiming a 2-1 victory over visiting Oregon Tech Friday morning at the Linfield soccer field.
Danny Snelgrow contributed the home team’s other goal, scoring just ten minutes into his senior season.
The Owls were led by senior midfielder Dustin Hirata, who recorded three shots on goal, including the game-tying score early in the second half
Possession alternated between the teams but remained in the middle third of the field through the early minutes. The Wildcats (1-0) showed a slight advantage early on, winning a corner and pressing into the Owls’ 18-yard box several times.
Linfield struck first when Domenico Del Prete sent a cross into the box and Snelgrow tucked it into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. Linfield kept the pressure on, forcing Owls keeper Loren Jessen to make a diving save on a Harper Taylor shot less than a minute after the first goal.
The ‘Cats had momentum going into the break after outshooting the Owls 10-2 over the first 45 minutes. Linfield keeper Scott Goodman was protected well in the first period, not having to make any saves. The Wildcats’ domination showed in the corner kick category as well, as the 'Cats recorded seven and the Owls had none.
Panic struck in the early minutes of the second half, as only a diving stop from Goodman prevented an own goal by the ‘Cats. Linfield regrouped however, and managed to regain control of the flow.
Eight minutes into the second, Hirata wrestled a cross from Ashton Betts down off his chest and calmly guided a shot off the right post and into the net to even the score at 1-1. The 'Cats nearly responded in the next minute, but Jessen knocked down a close-range shot from Baker to preserve the tie.
Oregon Tech nearly took the lead in the 58th minute, but a corner kick crossed through the Wildcats’ box untouched.
With just over four minutes to play, a penalty was awarded to the ‘Cats for a rough tackle in the box. Baker perfectly placed a shot into the upper-right corner, giving Linfield the lead for good.
UP NEXT: The Wildcats travel to Whittier College next Saturday to take on the Poets in another preseason nonconference contest. Game time is 2 p.m.
Photo credit: Tracy Maple, Cal Lutheran Sports Information