Derek Johnson has scored some important goals for the Pacific Lutheran men's soccer team this season, but none have been bigger than his overtime tally Saturday at East Field as the Lutes beat visiting Whitman, 1-0, in a Northwest Conference match.
Johnson, a junior forward out of nearby Franklin Pierce High School, hit a drive from about 15 yards out on the left side, and the ball bent away from lunging Whitman keeper Michael Bathurst and into the far side netting to decide the contest in the 100th minute.
The win kept the defending champion Lutes (7-4-2 overall) firmly in second place in the Northwest Conference standings with 19 points on a 6-1-1 record. Whitworth leads the NWC with 20 points on a 6-0-2 mark after its second 0-0 double overtime tie against Puget Sound this season.
That sets up a big Sunday meeting between Pacific Lutheran and Whitworth starting at 2:30 p.m. at East Field.
The winning goal came after Shane Gutierrez sent a ball through the defense to Johnson on the left wing. He touched the ball to his right foot to find room against the Missionaries defense and uncorked his winning shot, which caused a riotous celebration by the Lutes and left the Whitman players stunned.
PLU played outstanding offensive soccer in the first half but could not find a way to get the ball past Bathurst, who came up with outstanding saves in one-on-one situations against Giancarlo Santoro and Emmanuel Amarh. By the end of the first half the Lutes had taken 13 shots and forced Bathurst to make 11 saves, which is how many he had in the game. Whitman, meanwhile, had managed just four shots against Pacific Lutheran keeper Joe Rayburn and his defense.
The second period was quite different, however, as the Missionaries had most of the play, as evidenced by their 8-3 advantage in shots and by the fact that their defense kept the Lutes from forcing Bathurst into another save. Rayburn made two of his three saves in the second half. The Lutes had to feel fortunate when, with his back to the goal, Leland Matthaeus looped a shot over Rayburn that hit on the top netting.
Johnson had the only shot in the extra period, and it proved to be the match winner.
The Lutes took 10 corner kicks, seven in the first half, to six for the Missionaries, who are now 2-5-1 in the conference and 4-8-2 overall.
- PLU -