TACOMA, Wash. – Striking just one minute and 49 seconds into the match, 25th-ranked Puget Sound gained the early momentum and rode it all the way to a 2-0 victory over 17th-ranked Linfield in a titan matchup between the two championship contenders Sunday afternoon at Peyton Field.
With the win, the Loggers (13-2-2, 11-1-2 NWC) leapfrogged the Wildcats (15-2-1, 11-2-1 NWC) in the Northwest Conference team standings, inching closer to a 12th consecutive league title. With two matches remaining for both programs, Puget Sound (35) holds a one-point lead over Linfield (34) after trailing the Wildcats for much of the year.
Amalia Acroda-Fey scored both goals for the Loggers on eerily similar plays. On the first, Robin Vieira delivered a low cross from the left to right side of the box to Acorda-Fey, who finished into the far corner of the net. Eighteen minutes later, in the 20th minute, it was Beeson who served up the assist, in the air this time, to Acorda-Fey in nearly the same position on the field. Trapping the ball and sending it into the left side of the goal, the sophomore midfielder gave the Loggers a 2-0 advantage that held up over the final 70 minutes of action.
Defensively, Puget Sound kept Linfield's high-profile offense, including all-time leading scorer Emily Fellows, in check. The Loggers limited the Wildcats to single-digit shot attempts for just the third time all season – two of those matches have come against UPS – and Fellows, the league's leading scorer, to just a single look at goal, which went wide.
The Wildcats actually outshot the Loggers 9-7 for the match, and won four corner kicks to Puget Sound's two, but could not convert any of those opportunities into goals.
Ellie Schmidt nearly provided an immediate response after the first goal, but senior goalkeeper Casey Thayer knocked down the junior Wildcat's header and jumped on the loose ball to preserve Puget Sound's lead in the fourth minute. Thayer made a total of six stops on the afternoon in her final home appearance.
Linfield had more chances to pull even in the second half, beginning in just the 49th minute. Lindzee Baker had a one-on-one opportunity against freshman reserve keeper Lauren Thomas, but the junior midfielder was called offside. Midway through the second period, Baker again gave the ‘Cats life. Though her shot was cleared off the line by a Logger defender, Schmidt was there for the rebound, which went just wide of the goal.
The Wildcats' final chance to close the gap came in the 81st minute on an attempt from Molly McCool. Schmidt led the Linfield attack with four shots, including three on target, while Baker and McCool added two more apiece.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Kallina Haase made a pair of saves in the loss…Linfield was shut out for only the third match in 2013…Fellows was held scoreless for just the fourth time all season…the Wildcats have yet to sweep the Loggers in a season…the teams have split the series in each of the past three seasons.
NEXT: Linfield plays its final two matches on the road, beginning with a short trip to Portland to take on Lewis & Clark and ending with another trek to Washington for the regular-season finale at Pacific Lutheran. Both matches, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, start at 11 a.m.