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September 20, 2010

Lutes Split Matches In First Conference Weekend

THIS WEEK:  The Pacific Lutheran University Lutes will look to recover from their loss to Linfield College when they visit Whitman College and Whitworth University this coming weekend.  Perennially, this trip over the mountains is difficult due to the level of competition that these teams pose for opponents, but the Lutes will look to come out with a pair of wins and return to the top of the standings in the Northwest Conference.  PLU is 39-7-1 all-time against Whitman College, and under coach John Yorke are 13-2-1 against the Missionaries.  Whitworth University has posed a challenge for the Lutes, as well, with the games of the last four years being fairly even (3-4-1).  The Lutes and Pirates split last year, 1-1, in conference matches.  The Pirates are the three-time defending champions of the NWC, and have thwarted the Lutes twice in the last three years from advancing to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.  This trip will be the true test for the Lutes in their quest for the NWC title.  

LINFIELD 3, PLU 2:  A pair of defensive errors cost Pacific Lutheran two goals, and the Lutes hit the woodwork three times on the offensive end as the visiting Linfield Wildcats defeated the host Lutes, 3-2, in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match played Sunday on a sloppy PLU field.  Possession and shots were pretty evenly split in the opening 45 minutes, both teams taking six shots. PLU keeper Brian Kostol was called on to make saves on long-range blasts by Danny Snelgrow and Tyler Repic, while Linfield keeper John Thompson got his fingertips to a drive by Mark Lee, tipping the ball off the crossbar and out for a corner kick.  Linfield was the first team to break through, however, as Michel Camacho took a cross from Repic on the right side and slotted the ball under Kostol and into the far-side netting. The goal came at 29:45, and that scoreline held up into the early minutes of the second half.  That's when the Lutes made a pair of defensive mistakes that led to two Linfield goals. The first came when a ball passed into the box bounced past Kostol, where Carter Elhabbassi dove to head it home at 51:57. A little less than three minutes later, an otherwise harmless ball bounced between Kostol and center back Greg Noll. Harper Taylor saw the opportunity, racing past the two and easily tapping in the third Linfield goal.  After that, PLU started to assert itself. First, with about 33 minutes remaining, Chad Kearns scored what appeared to be a goal after pouncing on Thompson's bobble and scoring. The goal was disallowed, however, as the referee indicated that the ball was in Thompson's possession.  The Lutes finally got on the board at 70:16 when Daniele Zaccagnini slotted home a left-footed shot from eight yards out, with the assist going to Shane Gutierrez. Reserve goalie Joe Rayburn made a big save of Danny Snelgrow's short-range shot with seven minutes to go, and the Lutes converted their second goal less than 90 seconds later on the other end of the field.  About 30 seconds after Mark Lee's shot hit the left crossbar, Lucas McCallum made it 3-2 at 84:35, tapping home from in front on Lee's low cross from the right side.  The final five minutes produced a flurry of PLU offense, several excellent scoring chances, and no Lutes goals. First, McCallum's blast from the left was saved by reserve keeper Cody Tipton, and Lee's follow shot was cleared off the line by the Linfield defense. With just under two minutes remaining, Kearns beat Tipton with a header, only to see the ball bounce off the cross bar. Two more PLU shots were off target, and the Wildcats had the win.  PLU outshot the visitors, 20-9, but both teams had six shots on goal. Thompson had two saves, Tipton had another, and there was also the team save. Kostol finished with two saves and Rayburn had one for the Lutes. PLU had four corner kicks to three for Linfield.

PLU 3, WILLAMETTE 0:  The Pacific Lutheran men's soccer team opened the 2010 Northwest Conference schedule with a 3-0 win at home against the Willamette University Bearcats on Saturday afternoon.  Goals from Lucas McCallum, Chad Kearns, and Daniele Zaccagnini and a shutout from Brian Kostol in goal led the Lutes to victory. After a scoreless first half, the Lutes scored twice within the first 10 minutes of the second half on a blustery day on the PLU campus.  Lucas McCallum scored his first-ever PLU goal when he tapped in a perfect lay-off from Surafel Wodajo.  It was Wodajo's fourth assist of the season. Daniele Zaccagnini then scored after carefully placing a free-kick in the lower left corner just 10 minutes after the break.  PLU finished the match with 22 total shots, 12 on goal, forcing nine saves from Eben Hellekson.  Kostol earned the shutout between the posts, without being challenged throughout the match. The Lutes limited the Bearcats to just eight shots, three on goal, but Kostol was up to the challenge in notching his first shutout of the season.