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October 26, 2010

Lutes Men's Soccer Faces Important Road Matches

THIS WEEK:  The upcoming weekend poses a formidable task for the Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team (9-6-1, 8-3-0) as it travels to play Pacific (Ore.) University and George Fox University. 

LUTES VS. BOXERS IN KEY CLASH: Saturday, the Lutes will head to Forest Grove to take on the Boxers of Pacific.  The game will be huge, for the two teams are seperated by only one point in the table (PLU has 24 points, Pacific 23), and the winner will have a good shot at the conference title.  The Lutes won the first meeting between the teams in 2010 when Chad Kearns poked home a cross from the top of the box, beating goalie Andrew Stevermer.  Pacific (7-2-2, 11-2-3) is led by senior outside midfielder Kizamu Tsutakawa who has seven goals and two assists.  Chad Kearns leads the Lutes with 13 goals and four assists, while Surafel Wodajo has added a career high and conference-leading 10 assists to the Lute offense.  A statistical analysis shows that the Lutes are very capable scorers with a league-leading 25 goals in 11 NWC matches, while the Boxers are tough to score against, leading the circuit by allowing just five goals in 11 NWC matches. In four NWC home matches this season, Pacific has allowed only one goal - and the Boxers play all three of their remaining NWC matches on their home artificial turf field. Saturday's outcome could determine conference supremecy for 2010. 

LUTES VS. BRUINS: Of course, a PLU win over Pacific on Saturday would mean little if the Lutes were to stumble against George Fox on Sunday in Newberg, Ore.  The Bruins, playing in newly renovated athletic facilities, are currently 0-12-1 overall, having only scored four goals on the season.  The first meeting between the Bruins and Lutes at PLU in September saw the visitors go up 1-0 early in the match.  The Lutes battled back in the second half, scoring five unanswered goals to see the game out.  Two goals from midfielder Daniele Zaccagnini and one each from Mohamed Bouzakraft, Lucas McCallum, and Chad Kearns earned the Lutes the victory.  The match this coming weekend will be important for the Lutes in pressing for the Northwest Conference title.  Both matches are scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. 

LUTE NOTES: PLU has won six of its last seven matches, out-scoring its opponents, 14-3, and recording four shutouts, during the run. PLU players continue to lead the conference statistical categories for goals (Kearns with 13) and assists (Wodajo with 10).

REGIONAL RANKING: For the second time this season, PLU has cracked the NSCAA/Hendrickscars.com West Region top 10, coming in at No. 10 this week. Pacific is ranked No. 6 in the same poll. The Lutes were tied for ninth in the regional poll back on Sept. 7.

PLU 1, WILLAMETTE 0:  Spencer Augustin scored just 4:16 into the game and Pacific Lutheran fended off Willamette  in the second half as the Lutes defeated the Bearcats, 1-0, in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match played Sunday afternoon at Sparks Field.  Willamette finished the day at 3-10-3 overall, 1-8-2 in the NWC.  Augustin hit the net with a 22-yard shot into the lower right corner for his third goal of the season and his second in as many matches. His shot followed a short pass from Giancarlo Santoro, who took the ball down the left side and then moved toward the top of the penalty area, before stopping and passing to Augustin.  PLU outshot Willamette in the first half, 11-7, but the Bearcats achieved a 6-3 advantage in shots during the second half. For the game, Pacific Lutheran had 14 shots and Willamette earned 13, though the Bearcats held a 6-5 edge in shots on goal. The Bearcats also gained an 8-6 margin in corner kicks, with five of the corners coming in the second half.  Goalkeeper Brian Kostol of PLU recorded six saves while earning the shutout, his second of the season. Eben Hellekson provided three saves for Willamette.  Augustin, Daniele Zaccagnini and Chad Kearns each took three shots for the Lutes. 

PLU 2, LINFIELD 1:  Mark Lee scored the deciding goal in the 70th minute as Pacific Lutheran rallied from a deficit to defeat the host Linfield Wildcats, 2-1, in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match played Saturday.  Linfield struck first, scoring when Carter Elhabbassi converted Kevin Donato's corner kick into a goal in the 20th minute.  Trailing 1-0, the Lutes held the 'Cats scoreless over the next 70 minutes. On the other end of the field, junior forward Spencer Augustin broke through the last line of Linfield defenders before slipping a shot into the left corner of the net. Ausgustin's unassisted goal, his second tally of the season, came in the 25th minute.  Pacific Lutheran outshot Linfield 9-4 in the first half on the way to a 15-7 advantage in that category for the game.  Despite attempting only three corner kicks during the match, the Lutes made the most of their opportunities. With 20 minutes remaining in the match, Surafel Wodajo laced a corner kick into the box that Lee headed into the top left corner of the net.  After giving up an early goal to Elhabbassi, Pacific Lutheran goalkeeper Joe Rayburn held the 'Cats scoreless, finishing with four saves in the win. 

AUGUSTIN EARNS NWC HONOR: Spencer Augustin, a junior forward from Anchorage, Alaska, earned Northwest Conference Men's Soccer Offensive Player of the Week Honors after scoring a goal in each of the Lutes' wins last weekend. Augustin is the fourth PLU men's soccer player honored this season. Center backs Brennan Hall (Oct. 5) and Greg Noll (Oct. 12) have earned Defensive Player of the Week recognition, and forward Chad Kearns (Oct. 5) has earned Offensive Player of the Week accord.

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