McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Marisa Specht (Soph., Eugene, Ore.) broke open a 1-1 tie less than two minutes into the second period, opening the floodgates for the rest of the Linfield offense in Wednesday night's Northwest Conference season-opening victory over Pacific. The Wildcats scored three times over the first 8 1/2 minutes of the closing stanza and kept their distance from the Boxers the rest of the way to pick up the 4-2 win at the Linfield soccer field.
Pacific (3-1-1, 0-1 NWC) claimed the early advantage in the 12th minute on an unassisted goal from leading scorer Kara Lankey. But the eighth season goal from Emily Fellows (Jr., Portland, Ore.) brought the Wildcats (5-0, 1-0 NWC) even by halftime, and the home team never looked back.
Linfield looked to strike first, but Pacific keeper Kayla Davidson displayed some impressive defense to deny Wildcats strikers Emma Vukic (Soph., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) and Tegan Grunwald (Soph., Philomath, Ore.) on consecutive shots at goal. After hitting the grass to stop Vukic’s attempt, Davidson looked to be in trouble when Grunwald controlled the rebound just in front of the right post. But Davidson dove left and got her hands on the ball to deny the score.
Lankey was efficient, making good on Pacific’s first look of the match. Linfield goalkeeper Kallina Haase (Soph., Portland, Ore.) came out to challenge the play near the left side of the box, but Lankey won the battle and sent an easy, slow roller into the back of the net.
Fellows broke away from the defense in the 21st minute and finished from 10 yards out to knot the score at 1-1.
Linfield flirted with taking the lead about nine minutes later. Lindzee Baker (Jr., Spokane, Wash.) sent a pass from the left side into Vukic, whose shot wavered in front of the crossbar along the entire length of the goal before exiting the field of play just beyond the far post.
The Boxers pushed upfield with seven minutes to play and were rewarded with their first corner kick of the match. Pacific failed to capitalize, however, as Fellows displayed her defensive skills and cleared the ball.
Out of the halftime chat, Specht worked quickly to earn her second goal of the season. Upon receiving a cross from Grunwald, she moved to the center of the penalty box and drilled a shot past Davidson. Seven minutes later, Grunwald expanded Linfield’s advantage to two goals on another shot from close range.
Working with a 3-1 lead, Linfield refused to let up on the gas. Vukic took a free kick in the 56th minute, and served a high-arching ball into the box, where several Wildcats awaited, all hoping to make contact. It was Fellows who connected, sending a header over the Pacific defense and into the net.
Fighting to the end, McKenna Davidson pulled the Boxers to within two with 73 seconds to play. The sophomore forward took the ball herself and drilled a shot from about 10 yards out, tucking it into the far left corner.
For the match, the hosts outshot the visitors 13-3 and earned five corner kicks to Pacific’s two. Haase allowed two goals, but made one save to earn her first career NWC victory.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield is out to a 5-0 start for the second consecutive year...the Wildcats have scored at least two goals in every match this season...Vukic, Linfield’s second-leading scorer as a freshman, tallied her first goal of 2013...Grunwald's score was her first career game-winner ...the Wildcat defense has surrendered just four goals.
NEXT: Puget Sound and Linfield, the top two programs in the Northwest Conference each of the past two seasons clash Saturday in McMinnville. Match time is set for noon.
Keys second-half offensive barrage
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