Taking advantage of an early goal that came on a direct free kick, the visiting Willamette Bearcats stunned Pacific Lutheran, 2-1, in a Northwest Conference men's soccer match played Sunday afternoon at the PLU field.
With the victory, the Bearcats improved to 2-2-1 overall and 1-1-0 in the conference. The Lutes, picked by the conference coaches to win the NWC title, fell to 4-2-0 overall and 1-1-0 in the conference.
The Bearcats had finished eighth in the conference standings a year ago and most fans of Northwest Conference men's soccer wouldn't have given them much of a chance against a PLU team playing on its home field one day after a convincing 4-0 win over Linfield. The visitors had other ideas, however, and after scoring the game's first two goals hunkered down and withstood wave after wave of PLU attacks to come out on top.
Mike McGrew gave Willamette a 1-0 lead just 3:04 into the game when he drilled a 24-yard free kick into the upper near corner of the net, beating leaping PLU keeper Joe Rayburn.
The Lutes had an apparent tying goal from Spencer Augustin denied because of an offside call in the opening half.
With the Lutes pressing forward, Erik Kaufman took a pass from Adan Vazquez, touched the ball around Rayburn, and slotted it home to make the score 2-0 at the 58:52 mark.
The Lutes got a goal back at 64:56 when Kevin Wien headed the ball in from close range following a scrum in front of the box, and they almost had the tying goal several minutes later only to see a flick from Chad Kearns careen off the crossbar. Still later, an apparent Willamette hand ball in the box was waved off.
PLU finished with an 11-3 corner kick margin and a 17-6 shot advantage, forcing five saves from a pair of Willamette keepers. Rayburn had one save in goal for the Lutes.
Pacific Lutheran is back in action next weekend with conference road matches against Whitman and Whitworth.
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