McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Taking advantage of the wind at their backs for the first 45 minutes, the Wildcats jumped to a three-goal lead and tacked on two more scores in the second period en route to a 5-0 Northwest Conference women’s soccer victory over George Fox. The win came on a miserably rainy and windy Sunday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
With the win, the ‘Cats (7-0, 3-0 NWC) secured their best start in program history and sit atop the conference standings after the first weekend of action. The Bruins, meanwhile, were left searching for their first league victory at 2-4 overall, 0-2 in the Northwest Conference.
The first of five different goal scorers for the home team, Emma Vukic (Jr., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) jump-started the offense on a successful penalty kick conversion in the 19th minute. Tegan Grunwald (Jr., Philomath, Ore.) set up the next two goals to Ellie Schmidt (Sr., Dundee, Ore.) and Molly McCool before tacking on a fourth of her own early in the second half.
The second career goal by Sara Miller capped off the scoring for the Wildcats, who outshot the Bruins 24-2 for the match.
Linfield put up nine shots over the opening 15 minutes, but did not convert until McCool was fouled just inside the penalty box. Vukic took the kick and shot left and away from Ally Swanson, who guessed correctly but did not dive far enough to make contact with the ball.
Just a minute and a half later, Grunwald sent a ball into the box from the left side for Schmidt, who one-touched it into the net for her second goal of the year. Swanson got her hands on this attempt, but the ball was hit too hard and the weather too wet for the freshman keeper to make the stop.
Grunwald registered her team-leading fourth assist in the 26th minute. The sophomore dribbled through traffic just in front of the left post, distracting Swanson before shoveling a pass to McCool, who finished into the open net.
Playing toward the south end of the pitch into a severe head wind and driving rain, the Bruins struggled to build any semblance of an attack in the first half. Midway through the period, Tear’sa Krieger dribbled down to the right endline and sent in a cross, but Linfield defender Kendra McSheridan (So., Maple Valley, Wash.) quickly cleared the ball out of harm’s way.
Later in the half, with about seven minutes to play, George Fox looked to take advantage of a free-kick opportunity. But again, the Linfield defense – anchored by Lauren Pyrch (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) – corralled possession and pushed back in the opposite direction of the field.
Even through the second half, playing against the wind, Linfield continued to control possession. Grunwald got in on the scoring action in the 50th minute, shooting the ball across the grass and into the far left corner from about 15 yards out.
Miller worked hard for her first goal of 2013 after earning several good looks earlier in the half. The senior was twice fouled just outside the box, but the wind wreaked havoc on both of her free kicks, sending the ball high and wide right. Finally, with about 12 minutes to play, Miller finished off a set piece after receiving a serve from Schmidt on the right corner of the field.
George Fox managed to crack into their offensive half of the field late in the second half, and gained a couple of corner kick opportunities, but could not capitalize. Becca Allen pushed upfield and got past her first defender, but Jasmine Fojas materialized to break up the play and preserve the shutout.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Grunwald is tied for the NWC lead in assists with four...Linfield has won four straight matches against George Fox since the two teams tied 1-1 in September of 2011…Taylor Collinsworth earned her second win of the season…the junior has not allowed a goal in 156:51 of action in 2013…a total of 26 Wildcats logged minutes in the match…Fojas, Summer Mohr and Makenzie Peterson (Jr., Whidbey Island, Wash.) saw their first varsity action…the ‘Cats were called offside on four occasions.
NEXT: Linfield hits the pavement for its first NWC road trip of the year, a long one to eastern Washington. The Wildcats pay visits to Whitworth and Whitman, respectively, Saturday at Sunday at noon.