Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team kicked off the second half of Northwest Conference play with an impressive 1-0 win over second place Willamette University on Saturday afternoon at East Field.
The Lutes (7-5-2, 4-3-1 NWC) showed the defensive strides that they've made in the past couple weeks. The team earned their second straight shutout, this time over the Bearcats (7-4, 5-3 NWC), who won their last meeting with two late goals.
To even the season series, the Lutes still needed some offense of their own, and they got it late in the second half. Shortly after re-entering the game, Tyler Bennett took a pass from Eddie Na and drove the ball past the goalie to give the Lutes the lead in the 83rd minute. The Lutes held on from there, as goalie Jack Rose saved a shot from the Bearcats as time expired.
"We've been showing more maturity lately and stepping up to challenges that we've set for ourselves," head coach John Yorke said. "It wasn't a pretty game, but the win reflected our gritty attitude recently."
Some Lutes are still nursing some injuries, including Tyler Bennett, who still managed to make an impact despite seeing limited playing time.
"We had a lot of people step up, and it helps that we have such a deep roster," Tyler Bennett said. "We had to grind out a win, and I knew I had to make the most of my minutes. I'm just glad I finished it."
"Tyler's been injured, so I limited him today," Yorke said. "He's a good soccer player, and he made an impact today, and locked it down whenever he could."
The Lutes needed a big win today, and they got one, but Linfield College will provide another tough challenge for the team tomorrow, despite their record.
"Any win helps us, and it's easier to be ready for Sunday after a win on Saturday," Yorke said.
"It's great for momentum. we know we have to win out, and any win is good going forward, so it was good to end today on a high note," Bennett added.
The Lutes take the field at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow to try to continue their win streak.