McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Jake Baker recorded a first-half goal to spark Linfield to a 2-0 defeat of George Fox in a Northwest Conference matchup Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Grant Loriaux earned his first win and shutout of the season and kept the Wildcats’ back line well organized throughout the match.
Linfield (4-4, 2-3 NWC) was aggressive directly off the opening whistle, sending in a cross and taking a shot within the first three minutes of play. The Bruins (0-9-1, 0-5 NWC) countered with an early corner kick, but Loriaux came off his line to punch the ball away.
Ten minutes into the half, Linfield won a direct free kick just outside the box, but a shot from Baker missed just wide.
Brandon Zebarth nearly gave the Bruins the advantage 17 minutes in, but the captain’s point-blank shot was knocked down by the Wildcats’ back line before it reached the net.
The ‘Cats attacked with short spurts of possession and marched into the Bruins’ box several times through the mid part of the first period. While Linfield moved the ball well in the midfield, George Fox took command at times and kept the Wildcat defense on its toes.
Baker led Linfield’s attack, and persisted despite being knocked down several times inside the box. Finally, with just over nine minutes to play in the first, he drew a penalty kick after a hard tackle in front of the goal. The forward calmly tucked his shot past Bruins’ keeper Luis Angel Del Rio to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Only minutes later, Linfield almost capitalized again as it appeared a shot from Tyler Repic was headed for the lower left corner of the net. Del Rio, however, slid and extended his right arm to knock the shot away and prevent a second goal.
The Wildcats didn’t stop there, keeping the pressure on George Fox’s first-year player. The freshman kept his team in the match with successive saves from point-blank range shots from Baker and Repic.
Heading into the break with a 1-0 advantage, the 'Cats benefitted by outshooting the Bruins 15-5 in the first. Linfield also picked up five corner kicks in the opening period, while George Fox only had a pair.
Linfield started the second half with momentum on its side. Just three minutes into the period, the ‘Cats doubled their lead with an impressive one-two combination between Harper Taylor and Domenico Del Prete. After receiving a pass from Del Prete, Taylor headed it back to the striker, who pushed a close-range shot past Del Rio to make the spread 2-0.
Baker and Del Prete nearly combined for another goal with half an hour to play. Del Prete curled a pass towards Baker who missed just wide with a right-footed shot from the right side of the box.
The ‘Cats shifted to a more defensive formation moving into the later part of the match, but still pushed forward at times to keep pressure on the Bruins’ defense.
With less than ten minutes remaining, Linfield nearly put the game out of reach with a third goal. Baker once again sent a cross into the box, however it did not find the foot of the Wildcats’ strikers and the Bruins dodged a bullet.
On the game the ‘Cats out shot the Bruins 26-14, and Del Rio was forced to make ten saves.
COMING UP: The ‘Cats take on Pacific University Sunday in more NWC action. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the Linfield soccer field.