McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Two second-half goals from Whitman’s Alex Barsher and Cooper Schumacher spoiled the potential game-winning heroics of Linfield senior Harper Taylor and gave the Missionaries their first victory of the season, 3-2 over the Wildcats on a wild Sunday at the Linfield soccer field.
Just minutes after Brian DeGrandmont (Sr., Portland, Ore.) and Taylor tied and then pulled ahead of Whitman early in the second half, Barsher worked his way through the Linfield defense to knot the score at 2-2. Starting near midfield, the freshman weaved upfield before finishing off the drive into the right corner of the net.
About 11 minutes later, Junpei Tsuji connected with Schumacher on a free kick, giving the Missionaries (1-4-2, 1-0-1 NWC) a 3-2 lead that held up over the final 22 minutes of action.
Whitman struck first in the 21st minute when Schumacher drew a foul, setting up a free kick from Tsuji. Nearly even with the midfield circle, the senior midfielder showed off his leg strength, sending a cross up and over everyone into the far right corner of the net.
Domenico Del Prete and Jake Baker tried to get the offensive rolling for the ‘Cats, but their three combined shots were all stopped by Whitman keeper Stuart Ellsworth.
Playing with the 1-0 lead, the Missionaries opened the second period on the attack in hopes of adding to their lead, but Linfield quickly countered. Tyler Repic flipped a quick pass to DeGrandmont, who launched a shot toward the far post and snuck it into the net from about 20 yards out.
Taylor pulled the Wildcats ahead on a set piece. Baker sent in a corner from the left side and found his senior defender right in front of the net, setting up a point-blank range shot that gave Linfield its first lead in Northwest Conference action this season.
Riding the adrenaline rush of just his third career goal, Taylor sent a rocket from midway between the penalty box and midfield toward the goal that was just barely deflected up and over the crossbar by Ellsworth. Whitman’s keeper denied the Wildcats again on the ensuing corner, swiping the serve out of the air before any Linfield player could make contact.
Exactly two minutes later, Whitman’s Logan Grime sent a similar attempt toward the opposite goal, but that shot banged the crossbar and tipped back harmlessly over the endline.
Looking to win in regulation, both teams continued to attack the goal. Linfield had a good chance to regain the lead in the 66th minute when Ellsworth blocked and could not gather Del Prete’s attempt, but the follow-up attempt from David Scheafer sailed high.
The Missionaries pressured on their offensive end, and drew a foul to earn a free kick with 22 minutes remaining. Tsuji sent the ball in to Schumacher, who knocked in the game winner.
Linfield had opportunities to force overtime down the stretch, but Ellsworth made a pair of saves, including one on a shot from Repic in the 86th minute, to pick up the win.
‘CAT SCRATCH: DeGrandmont leads the team with three goals…Baker ranks second in the Northwest Conference with four assists on the year…Taylor scored his first goal since the 2010 season, when he had two…a total of six yellow cards were issued during the match, including five against the Missionaries…Linfield was outshot 9-3 in the first period but held a 12-11 advantage over the final 45 minutes.
COMING UP: Linfield heads up the I-5 corridor for back-to-back Northwest Conference contests at Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound. Matches on both Saturday and Sunday are scheduled for 2:30 p.m.