TACOMA, Wash. – Unfazed at the prospect of facing a nationally ranked opponent and refusing to lose at home for the second straight season to a surging Linfield team threatening its stranglehold on the Northwest Conference, 10-time defending champion Puget Sound stunned the 25th-ranked Wildcats 1-0 Saturday on the UPS East Field.
The Loggers scored just 10 minutes into the match and held the ‘Cats scoreless the entire afternoon, improving to 3-2-1, including 2-1 in league contests. The Wildcats, meanwhile, suffered their first loss of the year and slipped to fourth place in the early-season conference team standings at 6-1 overall and 2-1 in NWC matches.
After an initial push, Linfield spent the remainder of the first half in retreat. As the Loggers had their way in the midfield, the ‘Cats found themselves in an unfamiliar motion of backpedaling, preventing their typically potent offense from building an attack.
The visitors’ only chance of the first 45 minutes came in the sixth, when a shot from Christine Tamamoto just missed the upper left corner of the goal, pinging the crossbar instead.
Puget Sound earned its first corner kick about four minutes later, and didn’t waste the opportunity. Kylie Beeson served the ball into the box as the clock ticked down past 35 minutes. In the ensuing scrum for possession, defender Lauren Swanson found herself with the ball at her feet and snuck it past Linfield keeper Taylor Collinsworth into the net for her first career goal.
It was the first goal allowed by the Wildcat defense in five matches and snapped a nearly 470-minute shutout stretch.
Battling through physical play on both sides, neither team produced much offense for the remainder of the opening period. The league foes combined for just four shots, three of which were taken by the Loggers.
A determined Linfield squad came out of the halftime chat with a different lineup and more energy, firing off a shot and earning their first corner kick of the match within about ten minutes of action. But the offensive woes continued, as the Wildcats continued to struggle in Puget Sound’s half of the field. Linfield earned two corner kicks, but took aim at the goal just three times, with zero shots on target.
Defensively, Collinsworth was kept busy, but faced only one serious threat late in the second half, making a key stop to prevent Beeson from adding to the Loggers’ lead.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Puget Sound snapped Linfield’s six-match win streak, which tied a franchise-best undefeated stretch also achieved by the Wildcats’ 2010 team…all-time leading scorer Emily Fellows was held without a goal for the first time all season…the four shots taken by the 'Cats were a season low...Emma Vukic made her first career start…the match pitted Tegan Grunwald against her older sister, Sienna, who is a sophomore for the Loggers.
UP NEXT: Linfield returns home to regroup and hopefully bounce back Sunday against Pacific Lutheran. Match time in McMinnville is scheduled for noon.