FOREST GROVE, Ore. – A Pacific goal with four minutes remaining canceled out a second-half Linfield rally as the home-field Boxers topped the visiting Wildcats 3-2 in an evening match Friday at Lincoln Park Stadium.
Nick Rudella scored the game-winner to help Pacific (4-9, 2-6 NWC) win just its second Northwest Conference victory and avenge a 4-1 loss to the Wildcats (5-7, 3-5 NWC) two weeks ago in McMinnville.
Domenico Del Prete and Tyler Sedlacek recorded one goal each for Linfield, which lost its third straight match, second in conference play.
Pacific got on the board early when Mark Watson sent a cross to Quintin Love, who finished from about 15 yards out. Linfield keeper Scott Goodman contested the shot, but the effort was not enough and the Boxers took a 1-0 lead just 20 minutes in.
The teams remained about even in terms of shot opportunities over the final 25 minutes of the opening period. The Wildcats had Pacific keeper Michael Summers on the ropes in the 30th minute, and looked ready to tie the game. But consecutive shots from Del Prete were blocked and went wide, respectively, and an attempt soon after by Harper Taylor resulted in another save for the home team.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Boxers wasted little time stretching their lead to two goals. After receiving a cross from Kody Ganiko, Alex Arrington blasted a shot 30 yards into the top right corner of the net to put Pacific up 2-0 in the 51st minute.
But not so fast, said the ‘Cats. About 1 ½ minute later, Del Prete took a shot that was again blocked by Summers. But this time, the trajectory of Del Prete’s second attempt was spot on, and the visiting Wildcats were back in the game, down 2-1 with 39 ½ minutes to go.
Over the next several minutes, both teams built attacks and won one corner kick apiece. Then, in the 65th minute Linfield won its second corner of the half and seized the opportunity. Jake Baker served the ball into play, finding Sedlacek, who pushed the ball past Summers and into the middle of the netting to knot the score at 2-all.
With the clock winding down, it appeared the clubs were headed to their first overtime matches of the year. Rudella had other ideas, gaining control of the ball in a crowded box and scoring into an open net from five yards out to put the Boxers up 3-2.
Linfield did not have any scoring opportunities over the final four minutes, allowing Pacific to earn a split of the season series.
Scott Goodman made four saves in his first start in six matches. Summers, a 6-foot-5 junior, made five stops to earn his fourth win of the season.
COMING UP: The Wildcats get Saturday off to regroup before another Northwest Conference road match at George Fox. Match time Sunday is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Newberg.