McMINNVILLE, Ore. – First-place Puget Sound benefitted from three different goal scorers, as well as an own goal by the Linfield defense, in a 4-0 road victory over the Wildcats on a cool Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
The Loggers scored three times, including twice after the own goal, over a 15-minute span in the second half, putting the game far out of reach for the ‘Cats. Puget Sound's strong second half play was an about-face from the first time the two clubs met this season. In that matchup, a 3-1 Logger victory, UPS scored three times in the first half before being held scoreless while withstanding a solid comeback attempt from the Wildcats over the final 45 minutes of action.
With the victory, Puget Sound (11-4, 9-1 NWC) snapped a five-match win streak for Linfield (8-5-1, 5-4-1 NWC) and maintained sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference.
Carson Swope factored into two Logger goals, the first of which came in the 17th minute. The league's leading scorer sent in a free kick from just beyond the penalty box, where it skimmed Vincent McCluskey's head for a 1-0 Puget Sound lead. The senior midfielder also played a part in the 64th minute own goal, as his cross into the box off of Sean Ryan's free kick was deflected into the net by Linfield defender Jake Smith (Sr., Hillsboro, Ore.).
Aside from a pair of corner kicks in the final minute of the opening period, the best scoring opportunities for Linfield, which outshot Puget Sound 9-7 over the final 45 minutes, came right at the start of the second half. Around the 48th minute, Nicholas Autencio dribbled down the left side of the box to the endline before sending a pass to Rhys Lendio (Sr., Lahaina, Hawaii). The freshman midfielder got a great touch on the ball and sent it toward the far corner, but the shot sailed wide.
Down by just one goal at that point, the ‘Cats kept the pressure on. Tyler Repic battled his way through the box, and even after losing possession, gained it back with enough time to drop a pass to Domenico Del Prete, whose shot ran ran straight into the gloves of Logger keeper Nathan King.
About four minutes later, Repic took a free kick that weaved through a crowded box to the left box. Autencio was there for what would have been the tying goal, had it not been for King's impeccable positioning to make the stop, one of three for the junior goalkeeper on the day.
After the own goal in the 64th minute, things unraveled for the Wildcats, who allowed two more scores. Matthew Durland pushed the spread to 3-0 in the 73rd minute and Ryan Rash put back a deflected shot attempt from Connor LaFerriere in the 78th.
Linfield surged late in an attempt to avoid the shutout, getting looks from Ivan Colin, Chris Musser and Joey Grachek (Sr., Maple Valley, Wash.), but to no avail. Defensively, Jorge Rodriguez made four stops, but also allowed all four goals to suffer his third loss of the year.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield was shut out for just the third time in NWC action this season, including a 0-0 double-overtime tie against Pacific Lutheran…the ‘Cats played their third straight match without an injured Jake Baker…Puget Sound earned the season sweep over Linfield.
AHEAD: The Wildcats welcome Pacific Lutheran to McMinnville Sunday at 2:30 p.m.