COMING UP: With its hopes of successfully defending its Northwest Conference championship pretty much dashed, Pacific Lutheran turns its focus to a second-place finish when it travels to Oregon this weekend for a pair of matches. The Lutes, 8-6-2 overall and 7-3-1 in the conference, play against Pacific in Forest Grove on Saturday and versus George Fox in Newberg on Sunday. Both matches get underway at 2:30 p.m.
LISTEN LIVE: Senior broadcaster Landyn Rookard will be bringing you all of the action live from the roadtrip on GoLutes.com.
THE HARD TRUTH: PLU would need to win all three of its remaining matches and see Whitworth lose all three of its contests for the Lutes to retain the conference title they won in 2011. Whitworth leads the conference with 29 points on a 9-0-2 record, followed by PLU with 22 ponts on a 7-3-1 mark, and then Puget Sound with 19 points from a 5-2-4 record. With three points given for a win and one for a tie, the Lutes could technically tie Whitworth for the conference title should the Pirates finish with a tie and two losses in its final three games. However, Whitworth has the tiebreaker over PLU because of a pair of conference victories and thus the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national tournament.
RECORD OF SUCCESS: Credit PLU head coach John Yorke with building a program that annually competes for the conference championship. Pacific Lutheran men's soccer has finished in the top half of the eight-team NWC standings every year since the 2003, and over the past six seasons the Lutes have finished first once, second and third twice, and fourth once.
ABOUT PACIFIC: The Boxers enter Saturday's contest with a 4-12 overall record, and with a 2-9 conference mark they are tied for last place with George Fox. Pacific has been out-scored this season, 36 goals to 23. Nick Rudella leads the team with five goals and Jorge Mandujano has four assists. Keeper Michael Summers has a 2.27 goals against average. The Boxers finish their season with three straight home contests. PLU recorded a 2-0 victory over visiting Pacific the first time the teams met on Sept. 16. Pacific Lutheran keeper Joe Rayburn made four saves to record the shutout, and the Lutes limited Pacific to a total of just seven shots, including two in the opening half. Freshman forward Jordan Downing scored his first goal as a collegian, and the only goal that the Lutes would need, on a goal mouth scramble at the 36:32 mark. PLU's insurance goal at 55:03 involved the dribbling and passing skills of Emmanuel Amarh and a cracker of a finish by Brenden Cohen. Amarh beat his defender down the left wing, rounded the corner and charged at goal before passing through the box to Cohen on the far post. Other than those goals, PLU had a difficult time getting the ball past Summers, Pacific's keeper, who finished the game with 10 saves. His defense also cleared another ball off the line.
ABOUT GEORGE FOX: It's been a long season for the Bruins, 2-13-1 overall and 2-9 in the conference and on the short end of a 43-10 goal differential. Luke Hammer leads Fox with four goals and the team's five total assists are spread evenly among five players. Keeper Elliott Davis has a 2.56 goals against average. The last time these teams played was on Sept. 15, and the host Lutes recorded a 5-0 win in what was their 2012 conference opener. After starting slowly, the Lutes scored four goals over a period of 18 1/2 minutes in the middle of the first half. Brenden Cohen scored the game's first goal and his first of the season at 18:57, blasting a shot from 18 yards on the right and into the far side netting. Derek Johnson got the next goal, following up his own blocked shot and knocking the ball into the empty net at the 25:16 mark. Just 11 seconds later the Lutes had their third goal when Emmanuel Amarh took a pass from Johnson and scored. Amarh added the game's fourth goal at 31:32, and the final tally came at 54:22 from Giancarlo Santoro. After that, PLU head coach John Yorke emptied his bench with a total of 27 different Lutes seeing action.
LUTES SPLIT WEEKEND MATCHES: Pacific Lutheran split conference matches played last weekend at its own field. The Lutes took a 3-1 win over Willamette on Saturday with Giancarlo Santoro scoring two goals and Emmanuel Amarh getting the other. Sunday's 3-1 upset loss to Linfield put a damper on the weekend. PLU's only goal in the match was a Linfield own goal coming when a defender, trying to clear a cross, redirected the ball into his own net.
GOAL SCORING LEADERS: With forwards Emmanuel Amarh and Derek Johnson tied atop the conference goal scoring list, Pacific Lutheran is tied with Willamette for the team lead in total goals scored, both with 28 in 16 matches. Individually, both Amarh and Johnson have seven goals. Amarh is tied for the conference lead wtih six assists, followed closely by Johnson, tied for third with five assists. Goalkeeper Joe Rayburn is fourth in both saves with 56 and goals against average at 1.18.
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