Late scoring flurry lifts 'Cats to season-opening win
McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Emily Fellows (Jr., Portland, Ore.) factored into all three goals as Linfield rallied from a halftime deficit to knock off Warner Pacific in the season opener for both teams Friday evening at the Linfield soccer field.
Fellows tallied both the game-tying and game-winning scores, both of which came in the second half. She also assisted on the insurance goal from Tegan Grunwald (Soph., Philomath, Ore.) with 20 minutes to go. All three scores fell within a three-minute span, all but assuring a victory for the home-field Wildcats.
Molly Klinkhammer posted the lone point for the Knights – the first score of the match – on an unassisted goal in the 36th minute of the opening half.
Indicative of early season play, both Linfield (1-0) and Warner Pacific (0-1) struggled to maintain possession or build an attack through the opening minutes. By the midway point of the first stanza, however, the 'Cats looked to have the upper hand and put some early pressure on the Knight defense.
About 30 minutes in, Fellows went down just outside the penalty and took the free kick almost immediately. The quick strike did not fool Knights keeper Allie Holterman, however, as she deftly blocked the shot over the crossbar. Molly McCool (Fr., Bend, Ore.) sent a pass into the box off the ensuing corner, but neither that opportunity, nor a second corner less than a minute later, resulted in a score.
The 'Cats won another pair of successive corner kicks with about 16 minutes remaining, but again could not convert as Holterman continued to assert herself in the box. She made a total of 11 stops on the afternoon in the loss.
Warner Pacific got its first good look from Ashley Valencia, but Kallina Haase (Soph., Portland, Ore.) blocked and gathered the attempt in her first test between the pipes. The sophomore made a total of three stops in her Wildcat debut.
Linfield nearly got on the board in the 33rd when Emma Vukic (Soph., Bainbridge Island, Wash.) sent a through ball to Fellows. The junior striker had a one-on-one opportunity against Holterman, but sent the ball wide.
Molly Klinkhammer struck first for the visitors in the 36th minute, drilling a shot to the left of a diving Haase to give Warner Pacific a 1-0 advantage.
By the end of 45 minutes, Linfield had six shots to Warner Pacific's three, and five corners to just one for the Knights.
Both teams had scoring opportunities early in the second half. Molly McCool (Fr., Bend, Ore.) delivered a pass to Fellows just in front of the left post for a shot that was saved by Holterman, and Larissa Byrgazova took a free kick that sailed high. Minutes later, McCool and Fellows set up Ellie Schmidt (Jr., Dundee, Ore.) in front of the left post, but the Wildcats were called offside.
In the 67th minute, Linfield earned a free kick, but the play was broken up by the Knight defense. An opportunistic Kendra Howard (Jr., West Linn, Ore.) gathered the clear and sent the ball in to Fellows, who navigated her way past the keeper and another defender to knot the score at 1-1.
Linfield doubled its count almost immediately. Grunwald sent a cross from the right side of the box to Fellows, who was perfectly positioned in front of the goal. Linfield's all-time leading scorer got a head on the pass and sent the ball rocketing toward the net, where it bounced off Holterman's hands and snuck just inside the left post.
Less than two minutes later, Fellows had a one-on-one opportunity with the Warner Pacific keeper, who deflected the attempt. Grunwald stuck with the play, however, gathering the rebound and sending it back toward the goal for Linfield's third and final score of the day.
COMING UP: Linfield plays host to Howard Payne in a Saturday night nonconference matchup. Game time is set for 6 p.m.