McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Uncharacteristically quiet, the Wildcat offense scored just once in 90 minutes, but that was enough to knock off 12th-ranked Puget Sound in a big early-season matchup between the Northwest Conference powers Saturday at the Linfield soccer field.
Molly McCool (Fr., Bend, Ore.) supplied the lone goal of the afternoon in the 28th minute, punching the ball past starting keeper Casey Thayer from the left side of the box.
The final outcome remained in precarious position right up until the final buzzer, as the Loggers kept significant pressure on the Linfield back line. Puget Sound provided plenty of drama with some gasp-worthy close calls, but failed to put the ball in the back of the net for the first time all year.
Linfield (6-0, 2-0 NWC) and Puget Sound (2-1-1, 0-1-1 NWC) traded possession with frequency over the first part of the opening half. The Wildcats earned a pair of corners, but the clubs combined for just two shots through 25 minutes. That was until McCool cashed in on her first attempt of the game, earning both her second career collegiate goal and a 1-0 advantage for the home team.
Defense continued to reign in the second half. As the clock wound down, however, desperation kicked in for the 11-time defending conference champion Loggers.
With about 13 minutes remaining, Cassie Winter gained possession just inside the penalty box and worked her way to the right side. Linfield keeper Kallina Haase (Soph., Portland, Ore.) charged out of the box, and the two players simultaneously struck the ball. The Wildcats just narrowly avoided disaster when the ball struck the crossbar, and a rebound attempt from Liz Blonden was blocked.
Minutes later, a corner kick from Blonden skidded along the front of the goal and slipped through Haase’s hands, but the Loggers were not in position to put the ball away.
The ‘Cats pushed upfield a couple more times in the final minutes, but were more content to play defense and run off time to escape with victory.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Dating back to last season, Linfield has achieved back-to-back wins against the Loggers for the first time in program history…the Wildcats have matched their best start at 6-0, tying the same mark accomplished by the 2012 squad…the Loggers became the first team to outshoot the Wildcats all year, 7-4.
NEXT: Linfield plays its third match in five days when it welcomes George Fox to McMinnville Sunday at noon.
First career game-winning goal
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128