Bearcats Score Three Second Half Goals to Defeat Linfield; Hopes for National Tournament Still Alive

SALEM: Michelle Gregiore, Anne Merten and Susan Butler each scored second half goals as the No. 8 ranked Willamette University women’s soccer team (16-1-2, 11-1-2 NWC) kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive with a 3-0 win over the Linfield Wildcats (9-10, 4-10 NWC) Saturday afternoon at Sparks Field.

Gregiore, a freshman forward, scored first for the Bearcats at the 60-minute mark when she converted a pass from Naomi Baez.

Anne Merten scored her 13th goal of the season four minutes later off an assist from Brenna Hindman.

Freshman midfielder Susan Butler completed the scoring at the 76-minute mark when she knocked in a shot off a pass from Gregiore.

Now the Bearcats must wait to see if they are selected to the national tournament. Last year, despite being ranked in the Top Ten national rankings all season, the Bearcats were left at home when the University of Puget Sound got the automatic conference bid. This season, UPS won the NWC title outright and the Bearcats must rely on an at-large bid to continue play. Tournament selection is Sunday night.

In Saturday’s game, the Bearcats out-shot Linfield 27-4. Goalie Kari Woody made only one save, but it was a big one. Early in the second half, the NWC’s leading scorer, Kathleen Wochnick had a breakaway chance to score. But Woody came out to challenge her and deflected the ball away.