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September 23, 2009

Lutes Face Big Tests This Weekend

THIS WEEK: With two Northwest Conference road wins under their collective belts, the Pacific Lutheran Lutes face a stern test this weekend when they host the Whitman Missionaries and the Whitworth Pirates in two more conference contests. PLU faces Whitman on Saturday and Whitworth on Sunday with both matches scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

PRESEASON POLL: Northwest Conference coaches picked the Lutes to finish third in the conference, though just one point behind Puget Sound. Whitworth is the unanimous favorite to win its third straight NWC championship, and Whitman has been picked to finish in a tie for fourth place.

ABOUT THE MISSIONARIES: Head coach Mike Washington led the Whitman Missionaries to a strong second place showing in last year's conference standings, but that was a senior-laden team. Whitman enters the weekend action with 2-2-2 overall record and a 1-0-1 conference mark after last weekend's 3-2 win over George Fox and 1-1 double overtime tie with Pacific. The Missionaries lost an all-conference keeper in Brett Axelrod and he has been replaced by Nic McDonald, who has a 1.55 goals against average. Todd Wallenius is among the key returnees and leads the team with three goals, while Chris Reid has two goals and an assist for five points.

ABOUT THE PIRATES: The Pirates are loaded and ready for a Northwest Conference three-peat, and they know that a key part of that bid comes this weekend when they play Puget Sound on Saturday and PLU on Sunday. Coach Sean Bushey has a talented squad led by Kekoa Mountcastle, who already this year has four goals and an assist, and by his son, Cameron, who leads the team with four assists. Other top offensive players include Justin Meyer with two goals and two assists and Elly Bulega with two goals and one assist. Brian Sherpe has seen most of the action between the pipes and has a 1.06 goals against average. Last weekend Whitworth defeated Pacific, 2-1, and George Fox, 4-0, and is now 4-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 in the conference.

A NICE ROLL FOR AUGUSTIN: Forward Spencer Augustin is on a nice roll with a goal in four of the last five matches. The sophomore from Anchorage, Alaska, leads the team in both goals (four) and points (eight) and has already surpassed his season goal-scoring output of a year ago.

ANDY FOR HYRES: Before the start of the season, PLU head coach John Yorke had this to say about midfielder Andy Hyres - "Andy Hyres is one of the best passers in the conference and will do at least one thing with the ball each game that makes it worth watching him play." The senior midfielder from Wilkeson, not exactly the hotbed of Washington soccer, leads his team with four assists, and the one goal he has scored proved to be the match winner in PLU's 3-2 overtime win against St. Thomas. With six points this season he is tied for third on the team in points scored.

LUTES BY THE NUMBERS: In addition to Spencer Augustin and Andy Hyres, several other Lutes are showing solid numbers on the offensive end of the field. Junior midfielder Daniele Zaccagnini has moved into second on the team list for both goals scored (three) and points scored (seven). Sophomore midfielder Surafel Wodajo has two goals and two assists for six points. As a team, the Lutes have scored 14 goals in seven matches, an average of two per match. Defensively, the Lutes have allowed 10 goals in seven matches, a number that is higher than head coach John Yorke would like to see. Junior keeper Brian Kostol, who has moved into the starting role this season, has compiled a solid 1.27 goals against average.

PLU 3, WILLAMETTE 1: Daniele Zaccagnini scored his second and third goals of the season to lead Pacific Lutheran to a 3-1 conference victory over the host Willamette Bearcats last Saturday afternoon. The match was the conference opener for both teams. Zaccagnini opened the scoring at 12:31 on a shot from 16 yards. A through pass from Surafel Wodajo left Zaccagnini with only onrushing WU goalkeeper Mark Bennett to beat, and Zaccagnini placed the ball into the lower right corner of the net. After the Bearcats tied it on a goal by Etienne Galbreath at 32:44, the Lutes got one right back as Wodajo scored for the Lutes at 33:13 to give PLU a 2-1 lead. The goal, the second of the season for the sophomore midfielder, came on a 17-yard shot that was assisted by Scott Parsons. Zaccagnini earned his second goal of the game to complete the scoring for Pacific Lutheran on shot from 14 yards at 68:00. Alex Schisel was credited with the assist. PLU achieved a 15-9 edge in total shots, including a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal. Lutes junior goalkeeper Brian Kostol registered three saves.

LUTES 2, LINFIELD 1 IN DOUBLE OT: After playing to a stalemate through two halves plus an overtime session, PLU topped Linfield, 2-1, on a Spencer Augustin goal in double overtime. The match was played last Sunday afternoon in McMinnville, Ore. Augustin's game-winner came off a rebound right in front of the net. After the ball was knocked around in the box, Augustin found the ball at his feet and softly tapped in the winner. The goal was a team-best fourth of the season for the sophomore forward. Neither team could score in the first overtime, though the Lutes forced three saves from Jon Thompson. Linfield got the scoring going in the 39th minute on a goal from Nick Jaurequi. The Wildcats' lead was only temporary as PLU's Jason Bjorgo answered with a goal, his first of the season, in the 43rd minute. Pacific Lutheran enjoyed a 19-12 advantage in shots and it also put 13 shots on goal, forcing nine saves from Thompson and also a team save. Kostol came up with six saves as Linfield put seven shots on target. The Lutes took eight corner kicks to five for the host Wildcats. "We had very good results for being on the road this weekend," said head coach John Yorke.

LUTES IN OVERTIME: Pacific Lutheran has compiled a 3-1 record in overtime matches this season. After losing the season opener to UC Santa Cruz on an overtime goal, the Lutes have defeated St. Thomas (Minn.), 3-2 in overtime, Capital (Ohio), 3-2 in overtime, and Linfield, 2-1 in double overtime.

LUTES ON THE AIR: Pacific Lutheran men's soccer home matches can be heard online by clicking on the following link - http://www.golutes.com/information/listenlive. Students Paul DiPietro and Bret Handy will call most of the action, with sports information director Nick Dawson handling some of the play-by-play duties.

- PLU -