McMINNVILLE, Ore. –
(Sr., Portland, Ore.) added two goals, including his first career game winner, to his team-leading total to propel Linfield to a 4-2 victory over Pacific on a sunny and unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
With the victory, the Wildcats (7-4-1, 4-3-1 NWC) earned the season sweep over the Boxers, matched their season win total from all of last season with six contests left to play and maintained their share of third place in the Northwest Conference standings with 13 points. Pacific, meanwhile, dropped to 6-7-1 overall and 1-6-1 against league foes.
The clubs traded goals – two apiece – throughout an entertaining first half before the Wildcats pulled away in the early minutes of the second period. Garrick Knowles and Jorge Mandujano scored once each for the Boxers, twice pulling Pacific even with Linfield, but second-half scores from DeGrandmont and Nicholas Autencio went unanswered.
Playing with a 4-2 lead, the Wildcat back line did a phenomenal job stifling the Pacific offense, limiting the Boxers to just four shots and one corner kick over the final 33 minutes. With keeper Grant Loriaux in goal and Harper Taylor anchoring the defensive field players, Linfield allowed 12 shots, but just four on target.
DeGrandmont put Linfield up extremely early, just 2½ minutes after the opening touch. Autencio sent in a ball from the left side that bounced untouched through a crowded box all the way to DeGrandmont, who shot it into the far left corner of the net for a 1-0 Wildcat lead.
Linfield kept the pressure on its offensive half of the field before Pacific managed to break through the defense about a third of the way through the opening period. Knowles knotted the score in the 20th minute with a shot that slipped through Loriaux's gloves.
Loriaux redeemed himself about a minute later with an impressive stop on a high-arching shot from Mandujano. The Wildcat keeper leapt and fully extended his arm to the top of the goal to flick the attempt over the crossbar.
Pacific keeper Michael Summers saved a hard free kick from Tyler Repic with about eight minutes to play until halftime, but Linfield scored almost immediately afterward anyway. Rhys Lendio (Sr., Lahaina, Hawaii) corralled the ball near the endline just right of the goal and tapped it back to Ivan Colin, who punched it into the back of the right side of the net.
A Linfield foul played a part in Pacific's tying goal. Mandujano set up for the free kick about 25 yards out, and sent it soaring into the far corner to tie the match at 2-2 with about four minutes remaining in the opening half.
DeGrandmont helped the Wildcats seize momentum early in the second half, scoring in the 53rd minute on a shot that lazily coasted through the box and pinged off the post before finding the back of the net.
Not five minutes later, Autencio added an insurance goal on what appeared to be a broken play. Pacific deflected a pass in the box, but the ball rolled out to Chris Musser, who sent it back into the box for Autencio, who headed it into the far corner for the decisive 4-2 advantage.
‘CAT SCRATCH: DeGrandmont ranks fifth among all NWC players with six goals on the year…Autencio raised his season total to four scores…Musser recorded his second assist of the year…Loriaux made four saves to improve to 2-0…Linfield is 3-1-0 against Pacific over the past two seasons…the Wildcats have won four conference matches for the first time since the 2005 season.
UP NEXT: Linfield looks for another sweep against a conference opponent when it plays host to George Fox Sunday beginning at 2:30 p.m.