McMINNVILLE, Ore. – A pair of lightning-quick goals sparked Saint John’s to a 2-0 victory over Linfield Thursday night at the Linfield soccer field.
A goal each from Michael Coburn and Zane Heinselman was all the Johnnies needed to get past the ‘Cats, who were outshot 14-12 in the match. Johnnies' keeper Ryan Brutger earned his second shutout of the season, recording three saves.
Saint John’s (5-4-2) pressured the ‘Cats early, winning three consecutive corner kicks in rapid succession. The first two were low crosses handled by Linfield’s back line. However only a leaping grab from Grant Loriaux prevented the third from finding a forward’s head.
Linfield (5-5) pushed into the offensive third and maintained solid possession midway through the first half. Saint John’s responded, moving the ball back into Linfield’s half and keeping Loriaux on his toes with several crosses through the box. A trio of Wildcat subs provided fresh legs and a burst of energy, though Linfield failed to create a real scoring threat.
After regaining possession, the Johnnies penetrated into Linfield’s box and finished the job with 12 minutes to play in the first. Loriaux knocked down a point-blank shot from Coborn, but the rebound kicked right back to the junior midfielder. With Linfield’s keeper still on the ground, Coborn tucked the ball into the net, making the score 1-0.
Less than a minute later, Saint John’s struck again, this time sending a cross into the box. The ‘Cats failed to clear the ball, and Heinselman was there to place a shot into the lower left corner of the net, doubling the Johnnies’ lead.
After the back-to-back goals, play became more physical on both sides of the ball. With just under nine minutes remaining, Jake Baker was taken down hard and the Johnnies were shown a red card.
Linfield was out shot 10-3 in the first half, and the Johnnies won six corner kicks while the ‘Cats had none.
The ‘Cats sought to take advantage of their power in numbers, and pushed forward from the first whistle of the second period. Despite being down a player, the Johnnies kept their foot on the gas and tested new Linfield keeper Scott Goodman with several quick shots.
Coborn nearly made the spread 3-0 five minutes into the second half, but his close-range shot from the right side of the box missed just wide of the right post.
Saint John’s not only stood up to Linfield’s attack, but also created multiple scoring opportunities throughout the middle part of the second period.
The ‘Cats struggled to maintain possession through the closing minutes of the game, and built no serious attack against the Johnnies’ back line.
NEXT UP: Northwest Conference play resumes as rival Willamette heads to McMinnville this Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m., and directly follows the Linfield women’s game against Whitworth.