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October 4, 2012

Another Home-Away Split for PLU Women

THIS WEEKEND: Pacific Lutheran will again face one home and one away match this weekend against the George Fox Bruins and Willamette Bearcats. The women's soccer team will host George Fox this Saturday at noon on the East Field before traveling south to face Willamette in Salem, Ore. on Sunday, also at noon.
CUTTING "TIES": If anything can be learned from Pacific Lutheran's 0-1-5 conference record through the first half of the season, it's that the Lutes can compete with any team in the Northwest conference, giving fits to powerful opponents on tough away matches such as Puget Sound and Whitworth (both matches ended in a 2-2 draw). But the Lutes are also seeking their first conference victory this weekend against a struggling George Fox team who is also seeking its first victory as well. With the way the standings stack up, PLU could be poised to jump significantly in the conference standings should they break through the win column this Saturday and Sunday. PLU's five draws on the season already surpasses the record of four ties set by the 1991 squad, the same team that went on to win the NAIA National Championship.
MATCHING UP WITH THE BRUINS: The Bruin offense, which has only found the net once in conference play so far, will look to get something going against a tough PLU defense that boasts a 0.98 goals-against-average in conference play. George Fox freshman defender Michelle Young leads her team with five points off two goals and a single assist and is the only one to score against NWC opponents. The Lutes have found success against the Bruins in recent years, getting a point result out of the last five fixtures between the two sides dating back to 2009. PLU has won four of the last five matchups while ending the most recent contest in a 1-1 draw. The Lutes lead the all time series with George Fox by a tally of 20-15-3.
WILLAMETTE NEXT: The Bearcats are currently sitting at 2-3-1 in conference play, good enough for a tie for fifth position in the table. Sophomore forward Ashland Bernard has been leading much of the Bearcat attack, tallying five goals and two assists on 12 point for the season. Pacific Lutheran will try and get after a Willamette defense that has conceded the most goals in conference play thus far, allowing 17 goals in 10 matches. Willamette has gotten the best of the Lutes in recent history, taking eight of the last ten fixtures since 2007.
PLU 2, WHITWORTH 2: Visiting Pacific Lutheran rallied to force a 2-2 tie against league-leading Whitworth in a Northwest Conference women's soccer match on Saturday. Tiara Pajimola raced under a long pass from Kelsey Griswold and finished for her team-leading fifth goal of the season in the 34th minute to give Whitworth a 1-0 lead at halftime. PLU didn't tie the match until the 79th minute when Samantha Benner stole the ball from a Whitworth defender and then floated a shot over Pirate keeper Ashley Rothrock from just outside the penalty area.  It was Benner's second goal of the season.

The Pirates appeared to have retaken control three minutes later.  Jackie Day raced up the right side and crossed a perfect pass to the far post where Katrin Grant was there to head in past PLU keeper Marisa Gonzalez, giving Whitworth a 2-1 lead in the 82nd minute.  It was Grant's first goal of the season. But Mimi Granlund tied it again in the 88th minute when she headed in a corner kick from Blake Warner for her initial goal in 2012. Grant had a good chance at a winning goal two minutes into the first overtime, but her laser from 15 yards hit the cross bar. Benner then had PLU's best chance in extra play, but her shot was saved by Rothrock. Mackenzie Grow had a good look at a long shot in the second extra period, but Gonzalez just got enough on the ball to keep it out of the net. Whitworth finished with a 16-9 edge in overall shots, but shots on-goal were even at 5-5.  Both keepers made three saves.

PLU 0, WHITMAN 0: Marisa Gonzalez recorded 14 saves as Pacific Lutheran played to its fifth tie in six Northwest Conference matches, this one a 0-0 deadlock with Whitman on Sunday afternoon.

Gonzalez, a freshman keeper, stood strong with her defensive back line for 110 minutes against a Whitman team that took 26 shots to 11 for Pacific Lutheran, which is now 2-1-5 overall and 0-1-5 in the conference. The five ties eclipses a program record for ties in a season, breaking the record of four set by the 1991 NAIA national championship team that finished with an 18-2-4 mark. Gonzalez was called on to make 13 of her saves during regulation when Whitman took 25 of its 26 shots. Three of her saves came within a period of one minute, 20 seconds at the start of the second half.

The Lutes started getting more of the play in the final 10 minutes of regulation and into overtime. Over the course of the two 10-minute extra periods the Lutes took three shots to just one for the host Missionaries. Corner kicks went in favor of Whitman, 7-1.