McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Christine Tamamoto started Linfield’s 2012 season off on the right foot, scoring the first of two Wildcat goals in a 2-1 comeback victory over 16th-ranked Cal Lutheran Friday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Emily Fellows also made her presence known in her first game back since September of 2011, scoring the deciding goal for the home team.
Neither side took advantage in the first half hour, despite heavy pressure posed on both defenses. With Emily Allison and Lauren Pyrch anchoring Linfield’s back line, the ‘Cats were able to draw the Regals offside twice in the opening period and stave off several attacks on goal.
Offensively, Linfield matched Cal Lutheran shot-for-shot through the first quarter of the game, as each side recorded a pair of shots and saves.
But CLU midfielder Melissa Abdelkerim took it to the ‘Cats in the closing minutes of the first half, knocking in a cross from teammate Kristin Cameron to put the Regals up 1-0.
After falling behind, the Wildcats responded with pressure in their offensive half, building up a 7-4 shot advantage by the end of the period. Cal Lutheran keeper Kristin Bailey was kept busy, recording seven saves and preserving the first-half shutout.
Linfield rode that momentum and came out of the break on fire. A shot from Julia Vaughan missed just wide of the far post, but Tamamoto was there to tap the rebound into the back of the net to knot the score at one apiece in the 49th minute.
The Wildcats moved the ball well through the middle of the second half, spreading the ball between the middle and offensive thirds of the pitch.
Cal Lutheran was able to contain Fellows, the 2011 Northwest Conference Player of the Year, through the first 2/3 of the game. However, with 15 minutes to play, midfielder Jessie Hargett slipped a through ball over the Regals’ defense and Fellows’ shot found the back of the net.
The Wildcats appeared to have scored again just a few minutes later, but the goal was called back due to an offside penalty.
With nine minutes remaining, Cal Lutheran won a direct free kick just outside Linfield’s 18-yard box. Lindsay Armenta’s shot rattled off the cross bar, and the Wildcats breathed a sigh of relief as the score remained 2-1.
AHEAD: The ‘Cats take on Warner Pacific at home Wednesday, Sept. 5. One of two night games of the season for Linfield, this one is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m.