McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Linfield's Anna Sours scored with 5½ minutes remaining in double overtime as the Wildcats scraped out a 2-1 victory over Northwest Conference opponent Whitman Sunday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Whitman (3-8-1, 2-4-1 NWC) won an early direct free kick just outside the Wildcats’ 18-yard box. Senior captain Jaclyn Rudd struck the ball past the wall of Linfield defenders and found the back of the net. The strike gave the Missionaries the 1-0 lead just two minutes after the opening whistle.
After falling behind early, the ‘Cats gained some momentum and pushed into the offensive third several times.
With 15 minutes remaining in the first, Lauren Pyrch set up to take a free kick just inside Whitman territory. The defender sent the ball into the box, and Emily Fellows used her head to knock it into the net and even the score at 1-1.
Linfield kept the pressure on, and the Missionaries bunched defenders in an attempt to corral Fellows. The teams took the stalemate into halftime, with the ‘Cats outshooting the Missionaries 9-2. Linfield won seven corner kicks in the first while not allowing any.
The ‘Cats looked to hold an offensive advantage to open the second half, keeping the majority of possession in the attacking third of the field.
Emma Vukic gained control towards the left side of the field just outside the 18-yard box. After taking a touch, the striker curled a shot that beat Whitman keeper Emily Davis, but was denied by the crossbar. As Linfield continued to build attacks, Julia Vaughan and Vukic each had close shots that were just off target.
Fellows won a ball from a pair of Missionaries, and sent a through pass to Rachael Gernhart. The true freshman took a close-range shot, but rolled the ball just wide of the left post. One minute later, a shot from Fellows was blocked, and the rebound rolled to Christine Tamamoto. The forward struck the ball well, but like the earlier shot from Vukic, it rattled off the crossbar.
With 30 seconds remaining in regulation, the Missionaries gained possession and substitute Lindsey Scott broke into the Wildcats’ last line of defense. Linfield held strong, however, preventing a last-ditch shot from Whitman’s defender.
The ‘Cats won a corner in the opening minutes of the first period of exra time, but could not convert as the Missionaries cleared the loose ball out of the box.
Gernhart nearly ended the match with six minutes to play in the second overtime, but Davis made a sliding stop and the Missionaries’ defense cleared the ball off the back line.
Less than a minute later, Gernhart won a ball on the right side, and sent a cross into the box that found Sours. The senior captain shot into the empty net, and sealed another dramatic overtime victory for the ‘Cats.
'CAT SCRATCH: For the fourth consecutive game, the ‘Cats ended the second half in a deadlock, this time finishing off the victory with the late heroics from Sours…this marks the second consecutive game in which Linfield came from behind to win in overtime…the Wildcats won a total of 16 corners in the match while Whitman earned just one...Linfield is now two points out of first place, which is shared by Whitworth and Puget Sound.
NEXT UP: Linfield hosts Lewis & Clark next Saturday in more NWC play. Kickoff is set for noon.