Athletic competition returns to Linfield this weekend

Linfield soccer and lacrosse fieldFor the first time in 320 days, an athletic event will take place on the Linfield University campus. The Wildcats men’s soccer team welcomes the Multnomah Lions at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22 for an exhibition game at the newly renovated Linfield Soccer & Lacrosse Complex.

The women’s soccer team plays its first match on the new surface on Saturday, hosting the Corban Warriors at 11 a.m. The two teams will follow that contest with a reserve squad game shortly after.

“I am ecstatic that we are finally able to compete again,” said Garry Killgore, Linfield director of athletics. “It is also especially cool to be starting competition on a brand new soccer/lacrosse field. Our student-athletes and our staff can’t wait to enjoy a bit of “normalcy” in our world by competing again.”

Due to health and safety directives from the state of Oregon and the Northwest Conference, no spectators are allowed at any Linfield sporting events this season.

Fans can tune into a live video webcast produced by the Linfield Sports Network at https://golinfieldwildcats.com/coverage.

The last competitions held were held on March 8, 2020 when the Linfield women’s lacrosse team hosted Whitman and the men’s tennis team hosted Pacific. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the remainder of the spring 2020 season and delayed the fall and winter seasons for all Linfield sports.

High-risk sports such as basketball and football, as well as indoor sports of swimming and volleyball, await an exemption from the Oregon state government to start their seasons. Soccer, meanwhile, is considered an intermediate-risk sport, and will play what amounts to a shortened 2020 season in January, February and March.

Both teams play a slate of non-conference matchups before resuming Northwest Conference (NWC) play on Feb. 28 against George Fox University. To minimize travel, all NWC soccer programs in Oregon will face off against other Oregon schools in a double round-robin format.

Friday’s season-opening match will be the first for Andrew Duvall as head coach of the men’s soccer team. He arrives from Concordia-Portland, where he was an assistant coach for eight years. The Linfield men compiled an overall record of 5-12-2 and an NWC record of 3-9-2 in 2019.

Steve Simmons, who is in the second year of his second stint as head coach of the Linfield women’s soccer team, looks to build upon a 9-9-2 season in 2019. The Wildcats’ 8-6-2 NWC record was tied for fourth place in the conference standings.

All home matches will be played at the newly renovated soccer-lacrosse facility, made possible entirely through private donor contributions. Updates in the fall included a new turf field, improved signage and storage upgrades.

“The team and I are exceptionally excited for the upcoming game against Multnomah this Friday,” said Ronan Krutzikowsky, a junior from Newport. “This fall was tough. We had to get used to wearing masks and other COVID training restrictions while adjusting to a new coach. But the hardest part was the uncertainty of whether or not we were going to play. We’ve all been hoping we would get to play games this year, and we were excited to find out we were playing so soon after arriving back from the holiday break on our brand-new turf field. This season is an amazing opportunity to show how our commitment through these uncertain times has grown among the team. I cannot wait to get on the field!”

Linfield Athletics and the NWC continue to monitor the pandemic in the region and are coordinating competitions within local, state and federal health directives. All spring schedules may be changed or canceled at any time. Visit golinfieldwildcats.com for the most up-to-date information and schedules.