McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Emma Vukic led the attack with a goal and an assist, helping the 25th-ranked Linfield Wildcats roll to a 2-0 Northwest Conference victory over Pacific Lutheran Sunday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Taylor Collinsworth recorded her fourth clean sheet of the season and kept Linfield organized on the defensive end.
Looking make amends after suffering their first loss of the year, the Wildcats (7-1, 3-1 NWC) came off the opening whistle gunning. Julia Vaughan took a close-range shot within the first minute of the game, but her on-target look was saved.
Linfield got back into familiar territory in the 21st minute, when Anna Sours sent in a cross from the left side of the field. Emily Fellows flicked the ball on to Vukic, who finished with a right-footed shot into the side netting.
After the combination produced a 1-0 lead, the ‘Cats kept the pressure on the Lutes’ defense and took several close-range shots.
With just over eight minutes to play in the first period, Jennifer Brus sent a ball into the Wildcats’ box that found the foot of Blake Warner. The sophomore’s shot was from point-blank range, but she missed just wide as Linfield dodged a bullet.
PLU (2-1-2, 0-1-3 NWC) created a genuine threat with less than a minute left in the first. The Lutes sent the ball into the box and Linfield’s back line could not clear it out. Mimi Granlund struck the ball but missed high, and the ‘Cats salvaged the 1-0 advantage going into the break.
The Wildcats outshot PLU in the first half 12-4, forcing Lutes goalkeeper Marisa Gonzalez to make four saves. While Collinsworth didn’t have to make any saves, she was faced with heavy pressure several times in the opening period.
Linfield continued to push forward to open the second half, as Sours sent a cross in from the left corner of the field. Gonzalez was there to snatch it out of the air before Vaughan could get a head on it.
The ‘Cats had a slight advantage possession-wise, although several chances slipped through their fingertips.
With 24 minutes to play, Linfield finally capitalized and doubled the lead. Vukic played a ball through to Fellows, who achieved double digits in the scoring category with her 10th goal of the season.
Just minutes later, Tegan Grunwald sent another cross through the 18-yard box, but Gonzalez came off her line to punch the ball away.
With 10 minutes to play, PLU sent a cross through Linfield’s box, but Collinsworth was there to secure it. Linfield showed some disorganization defensively in the closing minutes, but managed to hold off PLU and preserve the shutout.
NEXT UP: The Wildcats travel to Willamette to take on the Bearcats in a NWC matchup next Saturday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is scheduled for noon in Salem.