Soccer breaks athletic hiatus with preseason win

With+spectators+prohibited+at+athletic+events+due+to+COVID+restrictions%2C+a+group+of+students+parked+outside+the+fence+to+get+a+view+of+the+game.

Maddie Loverich

With spectators prohibited at athletic events due to COVID restrictions, a group of students parked outside the fence to get a view of the game.

Maddie Loverich, Sports Editor

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Linfield men’s soccer bested the Multnomah Lions Friday night in Linfield’s first athletic competition since last March. The Wildcats outscored the Lions 3-0 in the first game played on Linfield’s recently renovated soccer and lacrosse field.

The first half was scoreless, but the Wildcats added a quick two goals to pull ahead early in the second half. Junior forward Cesar Cruz-Espindola scored Linfield’s first goal of the season and senior defender Chase Whitaker added another on a penalty kick less than three minutes later. 

“To score the first goal of the season means a lot to me and to have scored the first goal on the new turf field made the moment even better,” Cruz-Espindola said after the match. “When I score goals I know that I’m helping out my team get the result that we are pushing for every time that we step onto the game pitch.”

Junior defender Kohl Humphrey added the final goal of the game in the 69th minute to solidify the Wildcat’s win. 

The new facility will also host a women’s soccer exhibition match versus Corban University at 11 a.m. Saturday morning. Spectators will not be allowed to attend the game, or any competition this spring, due to COVID-19 restrictions. All games will be broadcast live on the Linfield Athletics website.

Despite the empty grandstands, the men’s game on Friday night progressed as normal with a welcoming announcement, playing of the national anthem, and roster announcements. The game foreshadowed the abnormal, spectator-free atmosphere that will be commonplace for all sports this spring. 

The closed gates at the venue didn’t deter all fans, however. A group of students parked outside the fence on the south end of the field stood on top of their car to watch the game. 

NCAA considers soccer to be an intermediate-risk sport for COVID-19 transmission, meaning the men’s and women’s Wildcat squads have been cleared to play a shortened schedule. Their seasons will consist of four exhibition games and then progress into a round-robin format against other Oregon NWC soccer programs, including Pacific University, Willamette University, and George Fox University. 

With the exception of a few games at the beginning of the spring season, game times on team schedules across the board are marked as “TBA” on the Linfield athletic department’s website. This appears to indicate an uncertainty that teams will face as the season progresses and fear of the new COVID-19 variants increases. The first case of a more contagious variant was found in Portland last week.