McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Brenden Cohen kicked off a scoring spree and Pacific Lutheran never looked back as the Lutes downed Linfield 3-0 in Northwest Conference action Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
The victory marked PLU’s fourth consecutive victory in matches between the two teams dating back to 2010.
Pacific Lutheran showed great patience in developing its attack, not forcing any shots. Rather, the Lutes combined close passes with strategic crosses to build scoring threats.
Lutes keeper Joe Rayburn recorded his third shutout of the season as the ‘Cats were held scoreless for just the second time this season.
The Lutes (4-3-1, 3-0 NWC) came out strong from the opening whistle, winning a corner kick almost immediately. The ‘Cats countered with a free kick of their own a minute later and sent the ball into PLU’s 18-yard box, but did not get a good look at the net.
PLU had a slight advantage through the first 15 minutes of play, keeping the pressure on Linfield’s back line. Only a diving save from Scott Goodman prevented a header from Emmanuel Amarh from giving the visitors the early advantage with 30 minutes to play in the first.
Linfield (3-3, 1-2 NWC) produced a scoring opportunity on a counter attack after the Lutes knocked the ball around the 18 and nearly found the back of the net. Danny Snelgrow curled a shot from the left side of the box, but missed just wide.
Midway through the first, the Lutes sent another ball into the Wildcats’ 18-yard box. This time, PLU exposed Linfield’s disorganization and Cohen knocked the loose ball into the net, making the score 1-0.
Two minutes later PLU struck again on a set piece. Shane Gutierrez sent a cross from the left side of the 18 into the box and found the head of Jeff Piaquadio.
Late in the first half, Goodman came off his line and slid to prevent a close-range shot. He was injured on the play, but remained in the game through the period.
Linfield was out shot 10-7 in the first half while giving up three corner kicks. The Lutes put four of their shots on target, forcing Goodman to make a pair of saves.
Goodman was unable to stay in the game, so Grant Loriaux got the nod to start the second half. He was tested within 30 seconds, reaching to snag a cross from Gutierrez.
The Lutes controlled the pace in the period, pushing forward and creating one scoring chance after another.
Loriaux slid to knock down a close-range shot and keep the deficit at two goals with just over 20 minutes to play. Several minutes later, the Wildcat keeper came off his line - and out of the 18 - beating Amarh in a sprint to a loose ball.
With just under five minutes to play, PLU sealed the deal with a goal from Sean Rigney, pushing the spread to 3-0.
On the game, Linfield was out shot 24-7 and did not win a single corner kick, allowing nine on the opposite end of the pitch. Loriaux contributed three saves in a solid second half of play.
NEXT UP: The ‘Cats are back in action Sunday as they take on Puget Sound at home. Kick off is set for 2:30 p.m., directly following the women’s match that pits Linfield against Pacific Lutheran.