McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Another day, another pair of goals for
(Sr., Portland, Ore.). Linfield's freshman forward scored twice in the opening half to help the Wildcats earn a 2-1 victory over George Fox and surpass their win total from all of last season Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Helped by four DeGrandmont goals over the weekend, Linfield (8-4-1, 5-3-1 NWC) won its fifth consecutive Northwest Conference match, a feat that has not been achieved since the 2004 season. The Bruins, meanwhile, were left still searching for their first league victory and remained at the bottom of the team standings with a 0-9 record (1-14 overall).
For the second straight afternoon, DeGrandmont scored within the opening four minutes of action, this time off pass from Tyler Repic. After Chris Musser sent in a cross from the right side of the penalty box, looking for Domenico Del Prete, Repic gathered possession and tapped the ball back to DeGrandmont for the easy finish.
Joel Schierman didn't make George Fox fans wait long for the answering goal. In the 10th minute, the freshman brought the score even with his first career goal, an unassisted one, from near the top of the penalty box.
Linfield had opportunities to pull back ahead, but struggled to find the target and also faced stiff resistance from Bruin freshman keeper Luke Ridder. With about 24 minutes to play, Nicholas Autencio had a breakaway opportunity against Ridder, who smartly stuck his leg out to stop Autencio's strike and preserve the tie game.
Rhys Lendio (Sr., Lahaina, Hawaii) and DeGrandmont connected for a second Wildcat goal in the 33rd minute. Lendio took a couple of dribbles up the right side before sending in a cross to the far side of the goal box. DeGrandmont awaited the pass, and one-touched it into the center of the net for his seventh goal of 2013.
Jorge Rodriguez made just two stops in the first half, but aggressively pursued the ball and broke up a handful of Bruin attacks. On one such occasion, he dove left, fully extended, and got his fingertips enough on the ball to deflect a good look from Miguel Lopez Ixta in the 42nd minute.
In the closing minutes of the opening half, DeGrandmont tried for the hat trick, firing off a hard-hit ball toward to the right post, where it was cleared by a pair of Bruin defenders.
A relatively quiet start to the second period resulted in just three shot attempts, all taken by Linfield, over the first 15 minutes. After junior defender Erik Davies was sent off with a second yellow card on a tackle just outside the box, the Bruins were forced to play a man down for the remaining 28:42 of the match.
Playing at a disadvantage, George Fox managed to keep the Wildcats off the board until the closing minutes of the game. Autencio had a one-on-one opportunity with time and room, but Steven Haga swooped in to break up the play and keep the score within reach.
A great runout from Sawyer Meek in the 74th minute earned the Bruins just their second corner kick of the match, but the visitors came away with nothing. Two minutes later, Schierman blasted a shot from just beyond midfield that stopped at Rodriguez' gloves near the right post.
Finally, in the 84th minute, the ‘Cats gained the insurance they were looking for: a two-goal lead. Autencio and Repic played a little two-man game, which ended when Repic dropped a pass to Autencio, who put the ball into the right side of the goal.
For the match, Linfield outshot George Fox 23-7 and held a slight edge in corner kicks, 5-2. Ridder made seven saves in goal, while Schierman, Meek and Luke Hammer paced the Bruin offense with two shots apiece.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The Wildcats have defeated the Bruins five consecutive matches, dating back to a 1-1 tie in September of 2011…Linfield earned its second conference sweep for the first time since the 2010 season...DeGrandmont (8) and Autencio (5) have combined for 13 goals in their rookie seasons...Repic totaled his second and third assists of the year…the Wildcats have assisted on 20 of their 27 goals in 2013…Rodriguez made his first start since Linfield's 3-1 win over Pacific on Oct. 6.
COMING UP: Linfield remains in McMinnville for a two-match homestand against Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran. Both matches, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, begin at 2:30 p.m.