TACOMA, Wash. – A highly productive first half paved the way for a 3-1 victory for undefeated Puget Sound over visiting Linfield in Northwest Conference men’s soccer action Sunday afternoon at East Field. The Loggers scored all three goals over the first 23 minutes of the match, earning plenty of cushion needed to withstand a spirited second-half comeback attempt from the Wildcats.
Linfield (3-4-1, 0-3-1 NWC) did a significantly better job controlling possession in the second half and avoided a shutout with the first career goal from Rhys Lendio (Sr., Lahaina, Hawaii). But there was precious little time remaining once the visitors finally lit up the scoreboard in the 77th minute, and with the loss, the Wildcats, who tied Pacific Lutheran the previous day, were left still searching for their first league victory.
Vincent McCluskey, Sean Ryan and Luke Sandblom scored in a multitude of ways for Puget Sound (6-3, 4-0 NWC), which outshot its guest 14-12 and held a 10-6 advantage in corner kick opportunities over 90 minutes.
The Loggers’ first goal came on a set piece not eight minutes into the match. Sandblom took a free kick and sent a ball to McCluskey, who headed it in to the bottom right corner of the net.
Linfield countered, earning a pair of corner kicks and getting looks from Harper Taylor and Domenico Del Prete, but momentum soon swung back down to the opposite end of the field, where Sam Zisette and Ryan connected for a second Logger goal in the 17th minute.
Puget Sound tacked on one more for good measure just 6½ minutes later, when Carson Swope sent in a cross that Sandblom headed in.
The Wildcats outshot the Loggers 9-6 in the second period, including seven looks at goal over the final 13 minutes of action. But the only ball to cross the goal line between the pipes came from Lendio, who sent his shot into the lower right corner after receiving a pass from Jake Baker.
Jorge Rodriguez surrendered all three goals in the first half before handing off goalkeeping responsibilities to Grant Loriaux to start the second stanza. Puget Sound keeper Nathan King rested easy without having to make a save until allowing the Wildcat goal. Daniel Kirsch closed out the final 13 minutes.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Baker’s five assists lead the Wildcats and are tied for third among NWC leaders this season…Loriaux saw his first action against a conference foe this year…nine different Wildcats have scored goals in 2013.
COMING UP: Linfield continues its long string of road matches with back-to-back contests at George Fox and Pacific. Both matches, set for Saturday and Sunday, are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.