WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Cody Escott and Domenico Del Prete each scored a second-half goal to help the Wildcats edge Northwest Conference opponent Whitman 2-1 Sunday afternoon at the Whitman Athletic Fields.
The victory gave first-year head coach Chuck Bechtol his first win over a league opponent, and marked the first time in six seasons Linfield (3-2, 1-1 NWC) earned points on its annual trip to eastern Washington.
Leland Matthaeus contributed Whitman’s only goal of the match in the 52nd minute.
The Missionaries (2-4-2, 0-1-1 NWC) appeared to take the advantage early on, firing off seven shots in the first 20 minutes of play. In all, Whitman outshot Linfield 9-1 in the first half, though not many were on target as Wildcats keeper Scott Goodman made just one save.
Action picked up in the second stanza, as the ‘Cats took advantage of the break to refuel and come out strong offensively. Escott broke free just three minutes into the period and tucked a shot into the back left corner of the net to make the score 1-0.
It didn’t take long for the Missionaries to respond. Matthaeus took aim from the top of the box and found the upper left corner of the net to even the score at 1-1.
Whitman held a slight advantage after their goal, taking several shots, albeit unsuccessful, moving into the late minutes of the game.
After a pair of successive saves from Goodman, Linfield countered and Del Prete dribbled into the box and finished the game-winning shot in the 73rd minute.
Despite a pair of late corners and one final shot from the Missionaries, the Wildcat defense was able to hold off the attack and secure the victory.
Linfield was outshot 16-5 overall, and won only two corners compared with Whitman’s six. Goodman ended the game with four saves and again did well to keep his team in the match.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield had not won in eastern Washington since Oct. 21, 2006, when the ‘Cats defeated Whitman 1-0…Del Prete’s goal was a career first…Escott scored his fourth career goal…Goodman earned his third win, all of which have come this season.
NEXT UP: The ‘Cats return home next weekend to take on Pacific Lutheran (Saturday) and Puget Sound (Sunday). Both games are scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m., with Sunday’s match capping off a doubleheader with the Linfield women’s soccer team.