McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Marked hard by two defenders for nearly the entire game, Linfield’s all-time leading scorer Emily Fellows played distributor rather than scorer, assisting on two Emma Vukic goals as the Wildcats downed Lewis & Clark 2-1 Saturday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
The win was the third straight for Linfield (10-1-2, 6-1-2 NWC) and broke a stretch of four overtime matches for the Wildcats, while the Pioneers (4-5-2, 4-4-2 NWC) saw their modest two-game win streak come to an end.
Fellows had her wheels going early, breaking free behind Lewis & Clark’s back line twice within the first seven minutes of action. Neither run out produced a score, with two shots by Fellows being saved and missing high, respectively. But the almost immediate attacks gave the impression that it was only a matter of time before the Wildcats put points on the board.
Sure enough, Fellows set up Vukic for the first goal of the afternoon just 13 minutes in. After receiving the pass, Vukic took a couple of dribbles to situate herself in the middle of the goal about 15 yards out. Pioneer keeper Geena Fong came off her line to challenge, but Vukic easily slipped the ball past her and into the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
Lewis & Clark nearly equalized in the 21st minute when Anna Thorndike took aim in a crowded box following a Pioneer throw-in. But her shot missed just right of the post and the Linfield faithful breathed a sigh of relief.
Only a minute later, Fellows and Vukic connected again. This time, Fellows used her head, literally, to set up the play, tapping the ball to Vukic. The freshman finished from about 18 yards out with a high-arching ball that Fong had no chance of stopping.
With 35 minutes to play in the second half, a hard tackle two field players and Wildcat keeper Taylor Collinsworth resulted in a penalty kick being awarded to the Pioneers. Thorndike took the shot, sending the ball toward the left corner of the net. Collinsworth dove in the right direction, but likely still feeling the effects of the collision, did not stretch far enough to make the stop.
Linfield nearly regained their two-goal lead with a 3-on-2 advantage in the 78th minute, but Fellows’ pass to Vukic on the left side of the goal had a little too much heat and the ‘Cats failed to capitalize. Julia Vaughan had two chances with 28 minutes left, but Fong stopped both of her looks from just in front of the right post.
Late in the game, Fellows nearly scored one of her own after receiving a nice cross from Mallory Nickles, but could not get a good enough handle on the ball to finish the play.
Overall, Linfield outshot Lewis & Clark 13-3 and earned five corner kicks to none for the Pioneers. Defensively, Fong made a total of four saves in the loss.
‘CAT SCRATCH: With a matchup between Whitworth and Puget Sound postponed due to a lack of an officiating crew, the Wildcats moved into a share of first place in the NWC with 20 points...the Pirates also have 20 points while the Loggers sit one position back with 19...Linfield has won or tied every match against Lewis & Clark dating back to the 2006 season…the Pioneers’ last victory in the series came on Oct. 25, 2006 by a score of 3-2…Vukic recorded her career first multiple-goal game and raised her season scoring total to five…Fellows leads the team with four assists.
AHEAD: The Wildcats play host to rival Willamette Sunday afternoon, beginning at noon. The “Think Pink” match features special activities related to breast cancer awareness.