Linfield women's soccer blows out Lewis & Clark
By ROBERT HUSSEMAN
Of the News-Register
Domination of possession. A 24-5 shot advantage. Four goals in a nine-minute span.
“What can you say about it?” Linfield women’s soccer coach Dominic Doty said.
Actions truly spoke louder than words on Sunday, as the Wildcats – ranked No. 17 in the d3soccer.com national poll – blew out Lewis & Clark, 5-0, at the Linfield soccer field.
Junior forward Emily Fellows scored her 14th and 15th goals of the season in the rout for the Wildcats. Ellie Schmidt, a Newberg High School graduate from Dundee, had a goal and three assists for Linfield, and Marisa Specht chipped in a goal and two assists of her own.
Linfield improved to 11-1 overall on the heels of a weekend sweep; the Wildcats defeated visiting Pacific Lutheran, 2-1, on Saturday afternoon. In the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference standings, the Wildcats (7-1) hold a four-point advantage over Puget Sound (5-1-2).
Linfield’s only blemish to date is a 2-0 defeat at Whitman on Sept. 29, which taught the players that, as Specht put it, “You earn everything that you get.”
“Last year we had a great team, but something clicked this year,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
Lewis & Clark (7-4-1 overall, 4-3-1 NWC) entered the game in third place in the conference but bowed after a 1-0 overtime defeat at Puget Sound on Saturday.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats overwhelmed the Pioneers from the opening whistle, consistently winning contested balls and possessing them deep into Lewis & Clark’s half of the field.
“Our midfielders worked their tails off,” Schmidt said. “They won all the 50-50 balls.”
Defensively, the Pioneers attempted to mark Linfield players one-on-one, hoping to curtail any attacks with their size advantage. The Wildcats, however, were a step faster all afternoon.
“If they’re passing around you, the only defense you have is to take them out,” Schmidt said. “Then you struggle even worse.”
Twenty minutes of near-misses and close calls gave way to an onslaught.
Fellows connected on a left-side cross from Specht for the game’s first goal, in the 23rd minute. Two minutes later, Specht received a cross from Schmidt and connected for a point-blank shot.
Schmidt got her fourth goal of the season in the 27th minute, on another cross from Specht. In the 32nd minute, Fellows broke away from the defender marking her, collected a pass from Schmidt and finished a 20-yard strike.
Three minutes later, Doty began pulling his starters from the game.
“That’s what we’re capable of,” he said. “This weekend as a whole was very complete for us. From yesterday to today, we looked right.”
An expected second-half push by the Pioneers never truly materialized, and Linfield again took advantage. Sophomore forward Emma Vukic recovered a blocked shot by Schmidt and netted her first goal of the afternoon in the 63rd minute.
Lewis & Clark’s best opportunity came in the 71st minute, when a free kick hit the crossbar dead center. Wildcats backup goalkeeper Amy Hammerquist made a save on a breakaway in the 81st minute.
“They were definitely fighting,” Specht said, “but I thought we came out with a little more heart.”
Throughout the second half, Doty was able to substitute liberally, eventually fielding an entire side of reserve players in the closing minutes.
“Anytime you can play 25 (players) in a conference match, something’s going right,” he said.
Linfield travels to Forest Grove on Wednesday to play NWC foe Pacific. The Wildcats bitterly recalled the afternoon of Oct. 28, 2012, when the Boxers notched a 1-0 victory that deprived Linfield of a conference title.
“We’re definitely out for revenge,” Specht said. “I know we can do it.”