McMINNVILLE, ORE. – Celebrating the halfway point of the Northwest Conference season with an emphatic win over an early season title contender, Linfield put on an offensive show in a 5-0 victory over Lewis & Clark on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Linfield soccer field.
Getting two goals from Emily Fellows and one each from Marisa Specht, Ellie Schmidt and Emma Vukic, the Wildcats (11-1, 7-1 NWC) remained atop the league standings while dropping the Pioneers (7-4-1, 4-3-1 NWC) into a tie for third place. Linfield scored four times in the first half, and added another for good measure in the 63rd minute.
With Schmidt working hard on the right side and multiple headers from Fellows just missing the target or finding Lewis & Clark keeper Geena Fong's gloves, it appeared to be only a matter of time before the Wildcats would score.
On the opposite end of the field, Lewis & Clark only managed to push past the penalty box twice over the first 20 minutes, and both times resulted in a Linfield goal kick. On the first occasion, Erin Moller and Kendra Howard played stellar defense along the endline and on the second, Isobel Fikso sent a free kick from about midfield to Anna Thorndike, whose header sailed just wide of the right post in the 18th minute.
Head coach Dominic Doty made an adjustment on the front line, flipping forwards Schmdit and Specht, and the results were felt almost immediately.
Gaining possession along the right endline after a Wildcat corner kick, Specht sent a short pass into the box, finding Fellows' feet smack in the middle of the goal for easy, six-yard finish.
Not three minutes later, Specht notched a goal of her own, benefitting from a long cross from the far left side of the field from Schmidt. With a single touch, Specht finished from point-blank range near the right post for her fourth goal of the year and a 2-0 Wildcat advantage only 25 minutes into the match.
Even with a sizable lead, Linfield refused to let up on the gas. In the 27th minute, Specht and Schmidt connected for a third Wildcat goal. Specht served it in from the right side to Schmidt, who twisted into a 10-yard shot into the right set of the net past a diving Fong.
Schmidt set up Fellows for a fourth goal in the 32nd minute. After receiving a cross from Schmidt near the top of the penalty box, Linfield's all-time leading scorer shot a long ball past Fong, who had charged out of the goal to challenge the play.
By halftime, the ‘Cats held not only a 4-0 lead, but also a 15-3 advantage in shot attempts and had won four corner kicks to Lewis & Clark's zero.
And the pressure kept coming. Six minutes into the second period, Fellows shot a rocket toward the goal that went just a bit high, nailing the crossbar.
The Pioneers finally earned a corner kick, taken by Megan Ratfield, in the 57th minute, but Linfield keeper Taylor Collinsworth punched it out of harm's way.
Six minutes later, Schmidt dropped a pass near the left post to Vukic, who finished into the far right corner from about 10 yards out to widen the gap to five goals.
Lewis & Clark had some late chances to avoid the shutout, but could not convert. With about 20 minutes to play, Ratfield turned a free kick into a long shot attempt from 30 yards out that ricocheted off the crossbar. Thorndike made a great run with about 10 minutes remaining on the clock, but could not even get off a shot attempt before backup keeper Amy Hammerquist charged the play and dove on the ball.
Ratfield played some defense for the Pioneers, too, denying what looked to be an open goal opportunity for Tegan Grunwald in the 73rd minute. A follow-up shot from Regan Cox pinged the crossbar, keeping the Wildcat lead at five goals.
Fong took the loss for Lewis & Clark, but made eight saves on the afternoon to try to keep her Pioneers in the match. Collinsworth and Hammerquist each made one stop for the Wildcat defense.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Schmidt ran her season assist total to eight, the most of any Wildcat since the 2002 season and twice as many as any other player in the Northwest Conference this year…Fellows scored her 15th goal of 2013 and the 66th of her career…Linfield leads the conference in goals scored with 37 while allowing eight, two more than the Puget Sound defense… Dani Nurmi (Sr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Dallas Edge made their varsity debuts late in the second half.
NWC PICTURE: Halfway through the Northwest Conference schedule, Linfield sits atop the team standings with a 7-1 record and 21 points…after picking up two wins on the weekend, Puget Sound (5-1-2) has moved into second place with 17 points…Pacific and Lewis & Clark, both 4-3-1 are tied for third with 13 points.
COMING UP: The Wildcats play their second mid-week match of the conference schedule against travel partner Pacific Wednesday night at Lincoln Park Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m.