Article by Nick Barene, Sports Writer
The men’s soccer team endured a storm Saturday, their first game of the weekend, against the defending Northwest Conference champions, the Whitworth Pirates. Forward Derek Johnson, a senior, scored the equalizing goal in the 83-minute game and helped guide the sixth-ranked Lutes to a 1-1 draw against the Pirates. First-year Rigoberto Loreto was credited with the assist, his team-leading eighth of the season.
The outstanding play of goalkeeper Joe Rayburn, a senior, was vital to the game for the Lutes. He persevered against the constant pressure from Whitman’s attackers and made two crucial saves in the overtime periods.
The Lutes’ defense stood its ground until 40 minutes in, when Whitworth’s Karl Muelheims collected a long pass and slid his shot past Rayburn from about five yards out.
In the second half, the Lutes picked up their pace and were able to produce more shots on goal. Despite outshooting Whitworth in the second half, the teams remained level through the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Pirates once again applied the pressure, but Rayburn came through with two big saves. Whitworth ended up out-shooting the Lutes 21 to 15.
“We kind of sat back at the beginning of this game,” defender Bryan Anderson, a senior, said. “Next game we’re really going to pressure them.”
Lutes’ Troy-Mikel Olger, a sophomore, and Taylor Jackson, a senior, both received yellows cards. Two Whitworth players were also booked. Johnson led the Lutes with four shots on goal.
In their next game, with PLU and Whitman deadlocked at one goal apiece, it appeared the match would be headed for extra time. That is until forward Johnson put two shots in the back of the net in less than 90 seconds to lead the Lutes to a 3-1 victory.
The first goal came in the 82nd minute. Johnson took a rebound off of Whitman goalkeeper Niko Contos and hit a rolling ball into the net from a tough angle against the right end line. The second goal came only seconds later in the 83rd minute, when Johnson took a pass from fellow senior Giancarlo Santoro and buried a shot from about 10 yards out to seal the game for the Lutes.
“He [Johnson] was more physical and moved more precisely and came in and did some of the dirty work in the game,” head coach John Yorke said.
PLU took an early lead in the 36th minute when midfielder Santoro collected a pass from Johnson and streaked through the defense to set up a one-on-one with the keeper. He kept his wits about him and put a decisive shot into the lower right side of the net to give PLU the advantage.
PLU would maintain its lead until the 73rd minute, when Whitman attacker Bridger Sellegren came bursting through a gap in the defense and buried a close range shot from about 10 yards out to equalize.
Joe Olenginski and Bryce Archambeault, both seniors, each received yellow cards during the physical contest.
The Lutes are ranked sixth in the nation and remain undefeated at 9-0-3 overall and 4-0-2 in Northwest Conference play. Whitman fell to 3-6-2, and 3-2-1 in the NWC.