By John Tveter, Guest Writer
The sun came out this past weekend and provided the perfect backdrop for a pair of Northwest Conference soccer matches at the East Field on the Pacific Lutheran campus.
The Lutes’ first game of the weekend against the Whitworth Pirates last Saturday was a tightly contested matchup between the two conference foes. The 90-minute game was not enough to separate the two teams, as both settled for a 0-0 draw after two periods of overtime.
The pivotal period of the match occurred in the first overtime period as goalkeeper Takara Mitsui, a first-year, came up with a huge double save to keep the game tied. Mitsui first dove to her right to deny Whitworth’s Megan McCart on a curving shot. She then quickly hopped back up to her feet to throw herself in front of a point blank shot from the Pirates’ Ashley Rothrock, who was attempting to tap home the rebound.
“I thought we played really well today,” forward Samantha Benner, a senior, said. “The offense will come. We played really solid defense, we kept really good possession — just a frustrating result.”
The Lutes came up with the big defensive stop when they needed to, but it was the Pirates who were struggling most of the afternoon’s 0-0 draw. The statistics showed it.
The Lutes outshot the Pirates 22-6 and put twice as many shots on goal as the Pirates, leading the category 8-4. Junior Blake Warner and first-year Kaylie Rozell led the Lutes and combined for nine shots with six on goal.
“We did everything but score today,” defender Mariah Rasmussen, a senior, said.
There was no evidence of tired legs last Sunday afternoon when the Lutes took on the Whitman Missionaries.
After some pressure yielded a Lutes’ corner kick early on in the match, the Lutes played it short to Warner. After Warner took a few touches, she sent a left-footed bending cross into the box.
Rasmussen received the cross and slotted the ball to the right of the Whitman keeper for a goal. Rasmussen’s goal gave the Lutes an early 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the match and proved to be the only goal scored by either side for the rest of the match. The goal was the Lutes’ first off of a set-piece so far this season.
“I played it into the box to give my teammates a chance to get on the end of it. Mariah got to the ball and put it into the back of the net,” Warner said. “Our hard work in practice has paid off in our games.”
Whitman forced the Lutes to battle defensively for the rest of the match as they were outshot 10-5. The keeper tandem of sophomore Marisa Gonzalez and Mitsui, as well as the defensive midfield play of senior Alex Murray, led the Lutes’ gritty defense. PLU was able to contain the Whitman offense for the rest of the afternoon to complete the Lutes’ fourth consecutive shutout.
The Lutes’ defense has been steadfast this season. It has been about 460 minutes and counting since the Lutes last allowed a goal.
The rotating goalkeeper strategy head coach Seth Spidahl has been employing is working. By rotating Gonzalez and Mitsui, Spidahl is keeping both of them fresh, and the performance on the field for both players has been excellent.
The Lutes will be on the road next weekend, when they face Linfield Saturday and Willamette Sunday. Both games are set to start at noon. 🅼