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Lutes Return Home, Face Big Conference Tests

Defender Taylor Jackson (2)

COMING UP: Every match that the Pacific Lutheran men's soccer team plays from here on out has major import regarding the Northwest Conference championship, so expect the defending champion Lutes to be ready when Whitman and Whitworth come to Parkland this weekend. The Lutes host the Whitman Missionaries at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and then follow that up at the same time the following day with a contest against the conference-leading Whitworth Pirates.

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.

FOUR IN A ROW AT HOME: The weekend matches will be the second and third of five consecutive for the Lutes on their home field. Including last Wednesday's 2-2 double overtime tie with visiting Puget Sound, the Lutes have played only three of their 12 matches at East Field this season. PLU will host Willamette on Saturday, Oct. 20, and Linfield on Sunday, Oct. 21, and then finish the campaign with three straight conference road matches.

RANKINGS: Pacific Lutheran is ranked ninth spot in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Division III West Region rankings while Whitworth is second, one spot behind Trinity (Texas). In the national poll, Whitworth has moved up one spot to No. 10.

PLU VS. WHITMAN - THE SERIES: Following its 2-1 win at Whitman a couple of weekends ago, PLU enjoys a 43-8-1 all-time series advantage over the Missionaries. The Lutes have won three straight and six of the past seven against Whitman, whose only win during that streak came by a 2-1 score in 2010 in Parkland.

THE LAST TIME: Pacific Lutherand defeated Whitman, 2-1, when the teams played on Sept. 30 in Walla Walla. Jeff Piaquadio, a junior defender, 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. 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.

PLU VS. WHITWORTH - THE SERIES: Whitworth leads the all-time series against Pacific Lutheran, 24-21-7, including an exciting 3-2 victory the first time these teams met back on Sept. 29 in Spokane. Over the last 10 meetings the Lutes are 5-4-1 against the Pirates, including a string of three consecutive shutouts that ended with Whitworth's win earlier this season.

THE LAST TIME: Pacific Lutheran scored twice as many goals as Whitworth had allowed all season, but the then No. 11-ranked Pirates rallied to defeat the visiting Lutes, 3-2. As is typical of games between the traditional Northwest Conference powers, the pace of play was intense and fast throughout and the contest featured wide swings in momentum. Whitworth got on the board first on a bicycle kick goal in the 11th minute from freshman Samuel Engle. Emmanuel Amarh tied it for PLU 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. Whitworth tied the match 10 minutes later when Sam Selisch scored, and won it when Robbie Ubben tallied in the 84th minute. Whitworth finished with a shot advantage of 22-10, including an 11-4 edge in shots on goal.  Rayburn made eight saves to keep the Lutes close. 

PLU 2, PUGET SOUND 2 (2 OTs): Battling into the night and under the lights last Friday night, Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound ended their Northwest Conference men's soccer showdown in a 2-2 double overtime tie at PLU's East Field. The Lutes got on the board at 3:46 when Derek Johnson took a lay off pass from Emmanuel Amarh and slammed it into the goal from about 20 yards out. At the intermission the Lutes maintained their 1-0 lead despite the Loggers owning a 5-4 advantage in shots. PLU junior keeper Joe Rayburn came up big on several occasions, including a point-blank stop of Andrew White's header early in the period. Puget Sound had been getting a little more of the play late in the first half, and it turned up the pressure even more in the opening part of the second period. The work paid off when Carson Swope slipped past a couple of defenders and laid the ball off for Oliver Field, who pushed it around a sliding Rayburn and then finished into the open goal. The tying tally came at the 59:06 mark. Against the run of play, Pacific Lutheran scored the go-ahead goal on a set piece at 72:50. Amarh, who had been knocked down to set up the free kick about 10 yards outside of the box, volleyed Shane Gutierrez's free kick past McDonald and into the back of the net, his sixth goal of the campaign. Just when it seemed that the Lutes would get the win, the Loggers came up with the match-tying goal at 86:18. Field, who had scored the earlier goal, crossed the ball in from the wing and Ryan Rash rose to head it past Rayburn. Through the 90 minutes of regulation the Loggers enjoyed a 13-8 advantage in shots, but it was PLU that put on the heat in overtime. Neither team had a shot through the first 10 minute extra period, but the Lutes forced two saves from McDonald in the second overtime. First he saved a shot by Jeff Piaquadio from a corner kick, and then seconds later stopped Mark Lee's follow up effort. The match ended with the Loggers on top in shots, 13-11, forcing four saves from Rayburn and also a team save on a clearance off the line. McDonald ended the match with five saves for Puget Sound. Corner kicks went to UPS by a 10-7 count.

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 23 goals through 12 matches. Leading the team is freshman forward Emmanuel Amarh with 17 points on six goals and five assists, followed by junior forward Derek Johnson with 15 points on six goals and three assists. Senior midfielder Brenden Cohen has slammed home three goals.

COACH JOHN YORKE SAYS: "Halfway through the season we are happy with this group of guys but would like to see some growth take place quickly in some areas in the team. Again, this is a young team that has not matured to their full potential yet. With so many new guys, it is taking time to gel in areas such as group defending and recognition of individual tendencies in our team attacking.  We continue to improve and are doing well in spite of being far from our full potential.  If we can make some strides in some problem areas over the next couple of games we could win the conference."

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