The men’s soccer team this year has proven to be something quite special, and it is not only their record that is a telling sign. There is something in the air about this team that one cannot help but notice. One could call it confidence, one could call it strength, one could even call it, “it.”
Whatever you want to call this presence, it exists and the Loggers are proving it. The Loggers have not only defined their own success this season, they are rewriting the definition, but with greater achievement in mind. There is no sense of uncertainty with this group, and the way this team is playing is a testament to how much they have improved in the past few years, and how our sights are now on much greater things.
Coming off of two overtime games, it was time for the Loggers to settle business in 90 minutes. The first of two matches was against Pacific Lutheran University at their home field. While it was not a far journey for the team, they brought plenty of luggage in their soccer arsenal. The Lutes were waiting, and the Loggers were more than ready when they arrived.
The Loggers (8-2-3, 4-1-2 NWC) started off slowly against PLU (6-4-2, 5-1-1 NWC), as Derek Johnson buried a shot from distance to the lower left corner just less than four minutes into the match. While the Loggers had three shots on goal in the first half, PLU was stingy in their defense, saving all three to preserve the 1-0 lead.
The second half was better for Puget Sound, as the Loggers scored the equalizer in minute 60. Junior Carson Swope (Portland, Ore.) played a ball behind the Lutes’ defender to set up a race between a Lute and sophomore Oliver Field (Portland, Ore.). With the Lute riskily sliding in to eliminate the opportunity, Field won the race and chipped it into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Thirteen minutes had passed before the Lutes reclaimed their lead. In the 73rd minute, Emmanuel Amarh of the Lutes snuck behind the defense on Shane Guiterrez’s free kick and one-touched a shot across the box into the goal. A team with less morale could have let this goal erode their confidence, but not the Loggers.
The Loggers and Lutes battled it out for another 14 scoreless minutes before Field led an attack down the field and drove to the end of the line. His custom tailored cross into the box set up junior Ryan Rash (Federal Way, Wash.), who came flying in to head it into the goal.
One would truly have to see this goal to believe it. Head coach Reece Olney called Rash’s goal a “world-class header.” The Loggers were even again at 2-2 with less than four minutes remaining.
As has been the case in previous matches, the Loggers pushed this one into a third overtime. Neither team found the golden goal in the extra 20 minutes.
Last week’s Northwest Conference Student Athlete of the Week, senior Chris McDonald (Newton, Mass.), turned away two shots on goal from the Lutes. Even though the Loggers walked off the field with a tie, they displayed their perseverance by fighting from behind all game long.
The next game matched them up against St. John’s from Collegeville, Minnesota. The assistant coach for St. John’s is from the Pacific Northwest, and six players are from the Seattle-Portland area. There was a distinct feeling in the undercurrents of this game. The Loggers wanted to show St. John’s what the Northwest is all about, and what better way to do so than to beat them in a convincing fashion?
Swope put the Loggers up early in the first half. 10:45 into the match, sophomore Sean Ryan (Mill Creek, Wash.) played in a cross from the end line and Swope broke through the Johnnies’ (5-5-2) back line to tap it in from seven yards out.
The Johnnies had a couple of opportunities on free kicks, but McDonald didn’t like the idea of getting scored on and made the save both times. All three of McDonald’s saves came in the first half.
In the 66th minute, freshman Sam Zisette (Seattle, Wash.) extended our lead to two goals. Zisette and junior Andrew White (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) delivered a perfectly executed give-and-go, where Zisette knocked the ball in the upper left corner.
The Loggers’ defense had very few cracks; the Johnnies’ only shot on goal in the second half came in minute 72. Following a blocked shot, the Loggers had a lapse where they failed to clear a bouncing ball. David Wee of St. John’s settled the ball and shot a rocket past McDonald to bring the Johnnies back within one at 2-1.
The Loggers put the game out of reach in the minute 88, when a Logger counterattack had Rash placing a through ball to sophomore Connor LaFerriere (Tacoma, Wash.), who touched it over to White. White was able to finish for his fourth goal of the season. The final score of the game was 3-1, Loggers.
The Loggers play at home for their next four matches. Next game is a match with NWC-leading Whitworth, Saturday, Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m.