It’s a tight race for first place at the top of the Northwest Conference table, and the visiting Willamette Bearcats ensured its team stayed there with a 3-2 Northwest Conference win over the Pacific Lutheran University Men’s Soccer team last Saturday at PLU’s East Field.
Despite the loss, PLU head coach John Yorke was happy with the performance.
“I thought we played really well, one of the better games we played all season,” Yorke said. “Unfortunately, they had a penalty kick and we had a bad defensive mistake which is a little bit of the same kind of stuff that has cost us in other games as well.”
Three shots in the first 10 minutes for the Lutes set the tone for what would be a high-scoring match, and PLU dominated the early proceedings.
Shots by senior Justin Manao, first-year Nate Popp and sophomore Rigoberto Loreto gave the Bearcats early scares, and their resistance was finally broken shortly before halftime.
A whirlwind of goals in the final seven minutes was started by PLU sophomore Diego Aceves off an assist from first-year Tarald Waerness.
In the 39th minute, Aceves took a pass from Waerness before unleashing a shot from 10 yards that flew past Willamette junior goalkeeper Braydon Calder to put the Lutes up 1-0.
Just three minutes later the score was level.
Willamette junior forward Garrett Ross passed to junior Sebastian Mortimer who hit a hard shot from 18-yards past PLU junior goalkeeper Mike Arguello in the 42nd minute.
Seconds before halftime, PLU struck again to make it 2-1.
Waerness turned from provider to scorer when junior Jordan Downing dribbled into the Bearcats’ box to find Waerness, who tapped the ball in from six yards in the 44th minute.
“When we were up 2-1, we had three chances within 12-yards to make it 3-1 or 4-1,” Yorke said. “We missed all three of them, and then the game went the other way.”
Unfortunately for the Lutes, their scoring for the day was over.
PLU continued their offensive onslaught into the second half by committing numbers forward and testing Calder, who came up with big saves.
Things weren’t going so well for the Lute’s defense either.
Senior defender Kevin Wien was called for a hand ball inside the PLU box. Willamette forward Alan Hernandez stepped up to score from the penalty spot to make it 2-2 in the 59th minute.
Willamette’s turnaround was completed in the 73rd minute off a goal by NWC Offensive Player of the Conference candidate junior Yazan Hishmeh.
Sophomore forward Julian Hanlon-Austin’s shot deflected off of PLU’s crossbar to the grateful feet of Hishmeh to score his 13th goal of the season and the game winner.
After the game, Yorke said he was looking for improvement Sunday against Linfield.
“We need to make the choice to win and be choosing to win rather than just letting it happen,” Yorke said.
The Lutes hosted Linfield the following day.
It was a game of firsts for Pacific Lutheran University Men’s Soccer players against visiting Linfield in their Northwest Conference match Sunday at East Field.
A first goal, a first start and a first sweep of Linfield since 2011 helped the Lutes run out with a 3-0 win.
The last home game of the 2014 season meant it was Senior Night, and seniors Justin Manao, Bryce Archambeault, Kevin Wien and Drew Sadowsky were honored with their families before kick-off.
By tradition, every senior starts the match on Senior Night, meaning Sadowsky earned his first start as a Lute.
“I thought we fought hard and it was unfortunate to go down after having the lead yesterday but we came back strong today,” Sadowsky said. “We got the result we wanted and got the clean sheet.”
Despite all the attention being on the seniors, it was two first-years who combined to open the scoring in the fifth minute.
Making his third start of the season, first-year midfielder Joel Frykholm found first-year forward Eddie Na, whose first touch deflected off of his face.
Keeping his composure, Na was able to make a quick turn and shot past Linfield senior goalkeeper Grant Loriaux for the unorthodox goal.
It was his sixth of the season in just 11 starts for the Lutes.
The team seemed to feed off the energy from the goal and moved the ball around the Linfield defense with ease.
A couple of shots from Na and Manao forced good saves from Loriaux, whose defense was struggling to keep up with the speed of PLU’s forwards.
Things would only get worse for the Wildcats when Loriaux had to be substituted off in the 35th minute with a possible concussion after a collision with Manao and one of his defenders.
He was replaced by first-year Jack O’Keefe.
O’Keefe only lasted four minutes on the field before getting scored on, this time off of a corner kick.
PLU sophomore Diego Aceves’ cross skipped through on the ground to an unmarked Archambeault, whose sliding shot snuck under O’Keefe in the 40th minute.
PLU went into halftime leading the Wildcats 2-0.
“I think the early goal hurt Linfield a bit, and we did a good job of putting them under pressure,” PLU head coach John Yorke said. “Some intelligent decisions in the midfield helped us keep the game going in their end the first half.”
The Lutes killed the game off less than 10 minutes into the second half when Archambeault and sophomore Nate Popp dual-assisted sophomore Rigoberto Loreto in the 52nd minute.
Archambeault’s cross squeaked through to the back post where Loreto roofed his shot into the net to make it 3-0.
“Joel Frykholm played really well and him and Justin [Manao] found each other and just put some pressure on them,” Yorke said. “It definitely gave us the confidence to keep going forward.”
PLU junior goalkeeper Mike Arguello finished the game with one save and was replaced by fellow junior goalkeeper Kyle Vanderwaal in the 75th minute.
“I think what was different this game is we had a lot more desire,” Sadowsky said. “Everyone was hyped up because it was Senior Night and we wanted to put on a good show for our fans and get the result we have been waiting for all weekend.”
With the win, the Lutes moved up a spot in NWC to fourth with a record of 5-6 and 8-9 overall.
Linfield’s second loss in two days sees them drop to fifth with a record of 5-6-1 and 8-6-1 overall.
PLU travels to Oregon this weekend to face Pacific Saturday, Nov. 1 and George Fox Sunday, Nov. 2.
Kick-off for both games is 1:30 p.m.