PARKLAND, Wash. – A disciplined Linfield women's soccer team avoided committing the classic “look-ahead” blunder, taking care of Pacific Lutheran 1-0 Saturday afternoon at East Field one day prior to a highly anticipated rematch against Puget Sound.
The Wildcats (12-1-2, 8-1-2 NWC) won their fourth straight contest and completed the season sweep of the Lutes (4-3-6, 2-3-6) to remain tied with Whitworth atop the Northwest Conference team standings with five games left to play.
Like in the first matchup between the two clubs, the ‘Cats jumped on the Lutes early, this time scoring on just their second attempt of the game. About 11½ minutes in, Emily Fellows took advantage of PLU keeper Marisa Gonzalez’ decision to come off the line and cashed in from six yards out for her league-leading 14th goal of the season.
Pacific Lutheran had little going offensively over the first 45 minutes. The Lutes’ sole scoring opportunity came by way of a corner kick in the 22nd minute, but the home team failed to get a shot off.
On the flip side of the field, Linfield did not exactly dominate the stats line in what was truly a defensive battle. The ‘Cats outshot the Lutes by a modest 6-0 margin and earned two corner kicks to PLU’s one, but nevertheless took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
Lutes freshman Lauren Larson did her part to try to tie things up, firing two shots within the first 11 minutes of the second period. Taylor Collinsworth saved the first, one of three stops she made for the game, and the second went wide as PLU failed to convert on its most significant offensive attack of the afternoon.
Linfield won just one corner, taken by Emma Vukic, and took a single shot, from Fellows, over the final 45 minutes. But with a slim one-goal lead, the most important aspect of the game became defense, and the back line held.
Collinsworth recorded her sixth shutout of the year and the seventh of her career. Defenders Emily Allison and Lauren Pyrch helped keep the pressure off the Wildcats’ keeper by limiting the Lutes to four shots in total.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield has won six straight matches against Pacific Lutheran to tie the all-time series record at 20-20…the Wildcats won just their second away game of the year, improving to 2-1-2 on their opponents’ fields…Marisa Specht saw her first action since suffering an injury against George Fox on Sept. 16.
AROUND THE NWC: Whitworth (8-5-2, 8-1-2 NWC) scored with two minutes remaining in the first overtime to defeat Pacific (5-7-3, 3-7-1 NWC) 1-0 in Forest Grove…Puget Sound (9-3-1, 8-1-1) topped Willamette (5-10-1, 3-8-1 NWC) 1-0 in Tacoma.
UP NEXT: Linfield returns to McMinnville to play host to rival Puget Sound in the Wildcats’ regular-season home finale Sunday afternoon. Match time is set for noon, following pre-game Senior Day activities.