Written by Student Assistant Jake Bilyeu
TACOMA, Wash. – The Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team put together its most complete performance of the season so far, defeating Wheaton College 3-1 on Saturday night in a non-conference match at East Field.
Despite being outshot by the Thunder (1-3) Saturday night, the Lutes (2-2-1) capitalized on their opportunities, especially early in both halves. Eddie Na gave the Lutes their first lead in the 18th minute, scoring off of a pass from Mack Smith. The Lutes took that 1-0 lead into the half.
Immediately after the intermission, junior Joe Sammartino took control of the game, netting his first goal just 17 seconds into the second half. Sammartino scored just three minutes later off of a penalty kick, pushing the Lute lead to 3-0. The Thunder scored their first goal in the 72nd minute to cut their deficit down to two goals, but the Lute defense held them scoreless from then on to secure the 3-1 win.
"That's the team we wanna see on a regular basis, they gave great effort tonight," head coach John Yorke said. "They were very engaged and committed to what we wanted to do, this was our statement game."
Now that the Lutes have showcased their true potential on the field, Yorke and company are hoping that they can reach this level of play every weekend on the way to an Northwest Conference championship.
"Conference is very different from preseason, and we can't afford to drop games from week to week," Yorke said. "We need a consistent commitment to today's effort, and that's what we want to stress as we prepare for next week."
After a big game on Saturday, Joe Sammartino proved he could be a reliable playmaker for the Lutes, and he hopes to keep showing that playmaking ability throughout the season.
"The team's always picked me up when I was having a bad game," Sammartino said. "It was nice to be able to restore the team's trust in me tonight."
Sammartino hopes to build the team's trust in him next week, when the team opens NWC play at Linfield College and Willamette University.