KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. - A clutch goal in the 85th minute from Oregon Tech's Gabe Rennels was the difference-maker as Linfield fell to the Hustlin' Owls 2-1 in a heated matchup at the Steens Sports Park Saturday night.
Linfield (1-2) shot nine times in the first period, but only once in the second, while Oregon Tech (1-2) fired 19 total shots against the Wildcats.
The 'Cats didn't waste any time putting the ball in the back of the net. Just 59 seconds into the game, junior Tyler Sedlacek found teammate Cody Escott with a cross for Escott's first goal of the season to put Linfield up 1-0.
But the Hustlin' Owls also showed they would not go down easily.
Only nine minutes later, Oregon Tech's Ashton Betts scored his first goal of the season on a pass from Victor Corona. The left-footed strike tied the score at one apiece with 10:06 off the clock.
The 'Cats kept the pressure on in the first half, putting eight more shots on goal, including four by Danny Snelgrow. But Oregon Tech goalkeeper Tanner Lee made two big saves and kept Linfield out of the net for the rest of the half. The Wildcats defense held its own, keeping the Owls' nine shots from finding the goal, and the two teams entered the halftime break in a 1-1 tie.
If Linfield's offense in the first half was Jekyl, in the second half it was Hyde. The 'Cats managed only one shot against the tough Owl defense in the second 45 minutes. On the other side of the ball, Oregon Tech put pressure on Linfield goalkeeper Grant Loriaux (Jr., West Linn, Ore.), forcing 10 total second-half shots.
The first nine missed their mark; the tenth struck gold.
Oregon Tech's Dustin Hirata connected with Rennels, who scored from 10 yards out to give the Owls a one-point advantage with five minutes to play. The goal proved inopportune for the Wildcats, who couldn't answer as time winded down.
The physical match featured 27 total fouls, including two yellow cards for both the Owls and the 'Cats.
NEXT UP: Linfield begins Northwest Conference play against Pacific Lutheran (3-1) in Tacoma Saturday afternoon.
Junior scores Linfield's only goal in loss
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