Any see that men’s soccer result the other day?
Linfield bounced Willamette 5-0 in Salem. Five different guys scored goals in the game. All in the second half!
Great win for the Wildcats and a sign that the program is building momentum under second-year coach Ian Lefebvre.
While Willamette is not to be confused with a title-contending team, beating any team on the road by such a lopsided score says that Linfield’s players are continuing to compete hard down the stretch of a long season that began with two-a-day practices nearly three months ago.
Linfield (9 wins, 9 losses) can clinch a winning season today with a victory over Pacific Lutheran. The Lutes themselves are fighting for that same winning season, entering the match with a 8-8-2 overall record.
The Wildcats lost three of their first four conference matches, but down the stretch, have won three of the last four contests. That includes beating Pacific 1-0, a team which surprised the Wildcats 3-2 in overtime they first time they met.
I asked Coach Lefebvre about the Wildcats’ late-season resurgance: “We went through some growing pains early on in the conference season and the guys are excited that we have had a little bit of success towards the end. They can see what could have been and what we have to look forward in the near future. We have had some key injuries and they guys stepped up against Willamette. This group is all about team. The focus is to get this team going in the right direction and start focusing on the little mistakes that we have made during the course of the season. The staff is really excited about the group that we have.”
For fans of Wildcats soccer, those are encouraging words. Were it not for those injuries, who knows? Linfield might have been right in the thick of the conference race.
It wasn’t that long ago that Linfield was competing in the NCAA playoffs. Three times this decade, as a matter of fact. Given time, Lefebvre will surely return Linfield to the top of the men’s soccer heap.