Thursday, November 10, 2011

Men’s soccer honors seniors

Loggers defense shutout Lute’s high power offense

By Annie Norling, Guest Reporter

On a sunny and brisk Saturday afternoon, the Pacific Lutheran men’s soccer team wrapped up the regular season with a 1-0 loss to Tacoma rival the University of Puget Sound.

The match began with a tribute to the seniors, as it was the last time the group of seven would play on the PLU soccer field.

The ceremony celebrated the careers of seniors Chad Kearns, Aaron Grossberg, Tom Molyneux-Elliot, Alex Schisel, Surafel Wodajo and junior Greg Noll.

“The pre-game ceremony was really special because I was able to spend it with my family and a group of my teammates that I have grown so close to over the last five years,” senior Alex Schisel said.

Schisel received a medical red-shirt last season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL.

“Winning the NWC championship with this group made all of the hard work and obstacles worth it,” Schisel said.

The Lutes started the match with a conference record of 12-1, 15-2 overall and a bid to the national tournament after a 3-0 victory against George Fox University last week.

The match kicked off at a fevered pace with the Loggers pressing the action for the first 10 minutes. In the 12th minute, the Loggers broke down the staunch Lute defense when Colin McIntosh followed up on a corner-kick from Landon Gauthier and slipped the ball under Lute goalie sophomore Joe Rayburn. The goal was the first Rayburn had given up in four matches.

The action went back-and-forth in the remainder of the first half as the Lutes and Loggers traded possession. The Loggers finished the first half with a 7-2 advantage in shots and a 1-0 lead.

The second half saw the Loggers on the defensive, but the Lutes could not find the scoring touch. In the 79th minute, the Lutes earned a penalty kick after a UPS hand-ball inside the Logger 18-yard box. Forward senior Chad Kearns stepped up for the spot kick but Logger goalie Chris McDonald made a diving save to deny the 2010 NWC Offensive MVP.

“We really pressed and amped up the game in the second half, but just couldn’t find the final ball to finish,” defender senior Tom Molyneux-Elliot said.

“We forced their keeper to make some amazing saves, but it just wasn’t our day,” Elliot said. “Thankfully, we have another chance to play better at the national tourney.”

The Lutes finished with an 11-9 advantage in shots overall, dominating 9-1 in shots in the second half.

The loss broke an 11-game winning streak, forcing the Lutes to share the NWC championship with Whitworth. Both teams ended the season at 12-2 in conference but the Lutes won the tiebreaker for the tournament berth.

“No one was really excited about the loss but I don’t think anyone is going to dwell on it,” coach John Yorke said.

“We won the conference and we’re going to the national tournament,” Yorke said. “We have a group of guys that have worked hard and they were rewarded with a good season.”

The Lutes are now 15-3 overall as they head into the national tournament where they hope to continue their record-breaking season.