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PLU Men's Soccer Moves One Step Closer to NWC Title

Aaron Grossberg (8) and Surafel Wodajo (10)
Aaron Grossberg (8) and Surafel Wodajo (10)

FOREST GROVE – Chad Kearns scored two goals and added an assist Friday night, leading a goal-scoring clinic by Pacific Lutheran in a 6-0 shutout of Pacific in Northwest Conference men's soccer action at Lincoln Park Stadium.

Kearns connected on both of his goals in the first half and assisted on a third in the 52nd minute to pace the league-leading Lutes (14-2-0, 11-1-0 NWC) to their 10th consecutive victory and their sixth shutout of the season.  With the victory, PLU moves within one win of clinching at least a share of the the program's first conference title since 1992. The Lutes play at last-place George Fox on Sunday and could wrap up the title, and with it the NWC's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

PLU outshot the Boxers 16-5, putting 11 of those on goal. The Boxers were limited to just two shots on goal, one in each half.

Kearns needed just 21 seconds to put the Lutes on the board.  Breaking away from midfield, Kearns worked his way quickly around two Pacific defenders at the top of the 18-yard box and punched in from eight yards out for the early PLU lead.

It was Kearns making it a 2-0 Lutes lead in the 14th minute thanks to some brilliant passing.  Spencer Augustin fed the ball into the near side of the 18-yard box to Surafel Wodajo.  His touch pass found a streaking Kearns through the penalty area for the quick strike from just three yards away.

Augustin, the conference's leading goal scorer, found the net in the 23rd minute.  It was Wodajo making the assist again, feed Augustin at the top of the 18-yard box.  Pacific goalkeeper Michael Summers charged to meet the ball, but Augustin poked it to Summers' right and punched in at the goal line to secure the Lutes' 3-0 halftime lead.

Pacific was limited to just two shots in the opening 45 minutes, both by Mark Watson.  His best opportunity came in the 12th minute but PLU goalie Joe Rayburn met him for the close-range save.

A third Kearns goal was denied in the 52nd minute.  Another set of touch passes by Augustin and Shane Gutierrez found Kearns just off of the far post, with Summers diving for the save.  The combination passes found the net a minute later, with Giancarlo Santoro and Kearns connecting to find Augustin in the same area.  This time, Augustin put the ball in the far corner for a 4-0 lead.

The goals were the 18th and 19th of the season for Augustin, tied Brian Gardner (1989) for second on the single-season list by the record 21 by Brian Stockwell (1981). Kearns now has 11 goals and six assists this season, and Wodajo added to his single-season and career records with his two assists.

Lucas McCallum padded the PLU even further in the 73rd minute when he tapped a shot off Summers on a diving save attempt.  McCallum followed the ball towards the far post where he scored uncontested from five yards out.  McCallum then added one more breakaway goal in the 88th minute, scoring of a long assist by Derek Johnson.

McCallum has scored seven goals for the Lutes, who have now tallied a school-record 52 in just 16 matches this season. The former record was 50 goals scored in 20 games by the 1990 team.

Summers finished with five saves in the loss, while Rayburn made one stop while playing 64 minutes for the Lutes.  Sam Watkins had one save in the final 26 minutes.

(Courtesy of Pacific Sports Information Office.)