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Lutes vs. UPS in Conference Men's Soccer Showdown

Emmanuel Amarh (24)

COMING UP: Pacific Lutheran plays just its third men's soccer home match of the season this Friday, and this one will be under the lights as the Lutes host crosstown rival Puget Sound in a key Northwest Conference showdown. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. on PLU's new synthetic turf East Field.

LISTEN LIVE: Most PLU men's soccer home matches and some road contests can be heard on the internet by going to www.golutes.com, clicking on the Listen Live button on the right, and then clicking on the appropriate link. Play-by-play announcer Landyn Rookard is joined this year by color commentator Surafel Wodajo in bringing you the action.

UNDER THE LIGHTS: While there will be plenty of sunlight when the game starts, the field lights will be shining as the Lutes and Loggers wrap up this big conference counter. This being just the third home match of the season for the Lutes, it is the first time that they will play a match under the lights.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?: Following last weekend's action in the eastern part of the state, Pacific Lutheran finds itself in second place in the conference with 15 points on a 5-1-0 record. Whitworth leads the NWC with 16 points on a 5-0-1 record, while Puget Sound is third with 13 points on a 4-1-1 mark. Last Saturday, the Lutes dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision while Puget Sound was losing 2-1 at Whitman. The following day PLU beat Whitman 2-1 while Whitworth and Puget Sound drew 0-0 in two overtimes. Should the Lutes win the match they would, at least for a day, take over the conference lead, while a tie would knot them with Whitworth atop the NWC. A Puget Sound win would leapfrog the Loggers past the Lutes and into a first-place tie with Whitworth. It should be noted that Whitworth plays at Whitman on Saturday, which marks the end of the first half of the conference season.

THE SERIES: Puget Sound leads the all-time series against PLU, 28-21-5, though over the last 10 matches its the Lutes that have a 5-4-1 advantage. Last year the Lutes won at UPS, 4-2, and then the Loggers returned the favor, beating the Lutes at PLU, 1-0.

RANKINGS: Pacific Lutheran is tied with Redlands and Texas-Dallas for the 10th spot in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Division III West Region rankings. Puget Sound holds down the No. 4 spot, three behind Trinity (Texas) and two behind Whitworth. In the national poll, Whitworth is No. 11, Puget Sound has received votes, and PLU is not mentioned.

FIVE STRAIGHT AT HOME: Friday's contest is the first of five consecutive Northwest Conference home games for the Lutes. PLU has played 11 matches this season and only two have been at East Field. The Lutes have played four of their first six conference contests on the road, winning three of those. After Friday, the Lutes host Whitman on Oct. 13, Whitworth on Oct. 14, Willamette on Oct. 20 and Linfield on Oct. 21. The team's final three games of the regular season are all on the road against NWC foes - Pacific, George Fox and Puget Sound.

LUTES STILL SCORING GOALS: There was some concern entering this season as to who would score the goals for the Lutes in 2012. The reason for the question was that three of the most prolific offensive players in PLU men's soccer history had graduated with the 2011 Northwest Conference championship team. Spencer Augustin compiled 46 points on 19 goals and eight assists, Chad Kearns had 33 points on 13 goals and seven assists, and Surafel Wodajo had 24 points on four goals and a school-record 16 assists. As a team, the Lutes shattered season records with 56 goals and 44 assists. While the 2012 team is not scoring goals at the same rate as last year's squad, it leads the Northwest Conference with 21 goals through 11 matches. Leading the team is freshman forward Emmanuel Amarh with 14 points on five goals and four assists, followed by junior forward Derek Johnson with 13 points on five goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Brenden Cohen has slammed home three goals, and junior defender Jeff Piaquadio has provided an unexpected two goals.

LATE GOALS: The Lutes have six wins this season, and in three of those victories they have scored goals inside the final 15 minutes to pull out the win. In the season opening 1-0 win at Hamline, junior midfielder Giancarlo Santoro tallied at the 76:15 mark. At Willamette on Sept. 23, Derek Johnson scored twice inside the final 11 minutes as PLU rallied for a 2-1 victory. Last Sunday, Jeff Piaquadio grabbed the winner with just under seven minutes remaining as Pacific Lutheran triumphed over Whitman, 2-1.

COACH JOHN YORKE SAYS: "Overall, as we hit the midpoint of the season, I feel pretty good about who we are and our prospects for improvement.  We are showing signs that we are maturing and are getting better performances from some of our young players as well as more consistent performances from some of our older guys.  We have a lot of room to improve and if we continue to do so, I believe we can definitely be a contender for the NWC championship."

WHITWORTH 3, PLU 2: Pacific Lutheran scored twice as many goals as Whitworth had allowed all season, but the No. 11-ranked Pirates rallied to defeat the visiting Lutes, 3-2, Saturday afternoon in Spokane. Whitworth got on the board first on a bicycle kick goal from freshman Samuel Engle in the 11th minute. Emmanuel Amarh tied it for PLU in the first half when he took a pass from Giancarlo Santoro and beat Whitworth keeper Kyle Novak from near the top of the box in the 24th minute.  Pacific Lutheran controlled possession for the first 10 minutes of the second half and it was rewarded when Shane Gutierrez connected on a hard shot from outside the penalty area, tucking the ball just inside the left post. It was his first goal of the year. Whitworth tied the match 10 minutes later on a goal by Sam Selisch, and Robbie Ubben scored the winner in the 84th minute. Whitworth, which had allowed only one goal entering the match, finished with a 22-10 shot advantage.  Rayburn made eight saves to keep the Lutes close, while Novak made two saves for the Pirates.

PLU 2, WHITMAN 1: Jeff Piaquadio scored his second goal of the season, and the second of his collegiate career, at a key time in leading Pacific Lutheran past Whitman, 2-1, in a conference match played Sunday in Walla Walla. Piaquadio scored the winning goal at 80:26, volleying home Emmanuel Amarh's one-hop corner kick from from the top of the six-yard box. Justin Manao gave the Lutes a 1-0 lead at 29:02, and his first collegiate goal was memorable. The Lutes patiently worked the ball in the offensive third of the field when Amarh played the ball to his right for Manao coming out of the midfield. The sophomore took one touch and hit a rocket from about 25 yards out, beating Whitman keeper Michael Bathurst. Whitman tied the game at 65:40 when Danny Smith was credited with a goal, though the ball may have come off of a PLU defender. Statistics showed Whitman with an 11-9 shot advantage, though PLU had a 4-0 margin in corner kicks. Pacific Lutheran keeper Joe Rayburn was credited with seven saves, while Bathurst had three for the Missionaries.

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