Augustin and 90 Minutes of Defense = First Place
Spencer Augustin scored his 12th goal of the season and Pacific Lutheran played scrappy defense for 90 minutes as the Lutes took sole possession of first place in Northwest Conference men's soccer with a 1-0 win Saturday over visiting Whitworth.
With their sixth straight victory, the Lutes improved to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the conference, one game better than Whitworth, now 8-3-1 overall and 6-2 in the NWC.
Saturday's match, played in front of 250 fans on an overcast day with temperatures in the low 50s, was nearly a carbon copy of a contest played between these two conference powers in Spokane on Sept. 25. The Lutes also won that match by a 1-0 score, getting a first-half goal from Augustin and then withstanding Whitworth's direct assault on their goal.
Augustin, the leading scorer in the conference and among the national leaders with 12 tallies in as many matches, got the only goal at 30:48, finishing off a nice buildup by the Lutes. Giancarlo Santoro moved the ball inside, then fed Chad Kearns making a run to the outside. Kearns sent in a low cross from near the left touchline, and Augustin ran onto it and hit a one-touch shot past Whitworth keeper Brian Sherpe.
Trailing 1-0 as the clock ticked down in the second half, the Pirates pushed forward for the equalizing goal. But while they put pressure on the Lutes, they got few really good looks at goal. That also opened Whitworth up to counter attacks, and Sherpe was called on for diving saves three times in the final 25 minutes of the match.
PLU ended up with a 10-7 advantage in shots, and it also put seven of its efforts on goal, resulting in six saves by Sherpe. Lutes goalie Joe Rayburn was officially credited with one save.
With one game up on Whitworth and two on both Whitman and Puget Sound, the Lutes return to conference action at 2:30 p.m. Sunday when they host Whitman. In the first meeting between the schools, PLU took a 3-2 overtime victory from the Missionaries on Sept. 24 in Walla Walla.
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