By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Sodai Takayanagi (So., D, Morioshaki, Japan/Moriokakita) scored for Willamette University just over 14 minutes into the game, and the Bearcats maintained the shutout for a 1-0 victory over archrival Linfield College, in a night game at Sparks Field on Saturday, Oct. 7. It was Takayanagi's first goal for the Bearcats.
Willamette improved to 7-3-1 overall and has now played eight consecutive games without a loss. WU also upped its Northwest Conference record to 6-0-1. The Bearcats are first in the NWC standings with 19 points and hold a six-point lead over Pacific Lutheran University (4-2-1, 13 points) at the midpoint of the conference schedule. Linfield fell to 2-9-0 on the season, 0-7-0 in the NWC.
Takayanagi scored at 14:04 on a 40-yard cross from the far right side that skimmed off the ground near forward Nicholas Ballenger (So., F, Salem, OR/West Salem HS) and took a low bounce into the left side of the net.
"This was a hard-fought rivalry game," Willamette Head Coach Lloyd Fobi said. "The Linfield team is a very good group. They tested our resolve and our group responded."
Willamette and Linfield completed a series of rivalry games in the NWC that started on Friday and ended on Saturday, as the league's travel partners played each other. On Friday, Pacific University slipped past George Fox University 2-1 in overtime. In afternoon games on Saturday, Whitworth University defeated Whitman College 3-2, and Pacific Lutheran downed University of Puget Sound 1-0 in two overtimes.
The Bearcats outshot Linfield 4-2 in the first half, including 2-0 in shots on goal. Willamette had a couple of counter-attack opportunities in the first half that were stopped with fouls by Linfield players just outside the penalty area.
Willamette gained a slim 8-7 edge in total shots over the final 45 minutes to finish the game with a 12-9 advantage. The Bearcats placed five shots on goal during the game, while Linfield concluded the night with two shots on goal, both in the second half.
For Willamette in the second half, Marco Gonzalez (Jr., F, Independence, OR/Central HS) at 53:29, Omar Dominguez Pascasio (Fr., D, Madras, OR/Madras HS) at 71:07, and Liam Main (Sr., F, San Francisco, CA/Marin Academy) at 75:25 took shots that forced saves from Linfield goalkeeper Eli Peckham. WU goalie Marco Gonzalez-Yanez (Jr., GK, Portland, OR/Central Catholic HS/U. of Portland) stopped shots by Isaias Flores at 55:29 and by Malachi Stalberg at 82:45.
Linfield almost tied the score at 81:20 when a free kick by Flores hit the top of the crossbar and went out of bounds for a goal kick.
Gonzalez-Yanez registered the shutout win and improved to 7-3-1 in goal after making two saves for the Bearcats. Peckham provided Linfield with four saves.
The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 14 with a home game against Whitman. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. (PDT).