McMINNVILLE, Ore. - The road to the Northwest Conference women’s soccer crown still goes through Puget Sound. The nine-time defending champion Loggers made that clear Saturday afternoon, using a late second-half goal by Abby Goss to defeat league-leading Linfield 1-0 at the Linfield soccer field.
With the win, Puget Sound (10-2-2, 8-1-2 NWC) moved into a tie with the Wildcats (11-3-2, 8-2-2 NWC) for first place in the team standings.
An uneventful first 45 minutes resulted in a 0-0 stalemate at the halftime break. The two clubs combined for just one attempt on goal, taken by Linfield’s Anna Sours (Sr., Jacksonville, Ore.) in the 33rd minute. Her shot from the left side of the box was skillfully deflected by Logger goalkeeper Kara Merfeld.
The closest Puget Sound came to a shot came midway through the second half, when a pair of Loggers had a two-on-one opportunity against Linfield keeper Apolonia Martinez. Unfortunately for the visitors, an offside call whistled the play dead.
Both teams stepped up the offensive pressure in the opening minutes of the second period. Puget Sound wasted little time getting its first shot off with about three minutes gone from the clock. The ‘Cats, meanwhile, took three corner kicks within a two-minute span, but were unable to capitalize on the scoring opportunities.
The Loggers finally broke through in the 76th minute. Puget Sound drove the baseline, and Kylie Beeson took possession the ball just in front of the goal on the right side of the box. She turned away from the goal and dropped a short diagonal pass to a wide-open Goss, who delivered a shot just inside the left post to put the Loggers up 1-0.
Despite a valiant effort, Linfield had few opportunities to tie the score over the final 14 minutes, taking one shot and one corner kick. Overall, the ‘Cats earned eight corner kicks to Puget Sound’s one, but could not put the ball in the net.
Merfeld, the Logger keeper, made three saves in the win. Martinez faced only two shots on goal, making one save and allowing the goal.
‘CAT SCRATCH: The Wildcats had won the previous matchup 2-1 in Tacoma...the Loggers snapped Linfield’s seven-match unbeaten (6-0-1) streak…the four shots taken by the Wildcats were a season-low...Puget Sound has five matches remaining; Linfield has four.
COMING UP: Linfield has a week to rest up for its eastern Washington road trip next weekend. The Wildcats travel to Whitworth Saturday and then to Whitworth Sunday. Both matches begin at noon.
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