WALLA WALLA - Trailing by two late in the second half, Whitman College mounted a feisty charge in the waning minutes that fell just a few twists and turns short of forcing overtime in a Northwest Conference women's soccer game with Linfield Sunday afternoon.
But with intermittent raindrops falling, Linfield held on - literally by the fingertips in a few cases - to escape the somewhat soggy Whitman Athletic Fields with a 2-1 victory.
With the game reaching its final 10 minutes, Whitman showed signs of life when Marisol Fonzeca came close to beating Linfield keeper Apolonia Martinez to a loose ball in front of the Wildcat goal.
Martinez, in a prone position, lost control of the ball for a few moments after the initial challenge, but the first-year keeper reclaimed the slippery sphere just in time to keep Fonzeca from ushering it into the net.
The Missionaries finally broke through a stout Linfield defense when one of the Wildcat defenders was whistled for handball inside the box.
Whitman's Jaclyn Rudd took the resulting penalty kick early in the 82nd minute and didn't miss, knocking home her fourth goal of the weekend to cut Whitman's deficit to 2-1.
Three minutes later, first-year Missionary midfielder Jade Anderson collected a ball at the top of the box and fired a bullet that Martinez reached high to snare. While the ball trickled through her fingers, it landed harmlessly behind her where she quickly reclaimed possession.
Whitman Marisa Poorboy uncorked a final shot for Whitman in the final minute, but Martinez made her second save of the day to ice the Wildcat victory.
Linfield, upping its NWC record to 10-2-2 (13-3-2 overall), remains tied with Puget Sound for first place. The loss dropped Whitman to 5-8-2 in conference and 7-10-2 on the season.
Linfield's defense ruled the first half, allowing just one Whitman shot over the first 45 minutes. The Missionaries picked up the pace in the second stanza, outshooting the Wildcats 8-7.
Amy Hasson finished with three of Whitman's nine shots. Rudd had two.
Linfield opened the scoring in the 33rd minute of the first half when Anna Sours fed a ball to Zoe Langsdorf, who beat the defense to drill an open shot to the right side of the goal.
The Wildcats made it 2-0 in the 16th minute of the second half when Jenna Quiring headed home a Lamngsdorf corner.
Lauren Brougham, Whitman's keeper, made two saves while facing 12 shots and six corner kicks.
Prior to the game, Whitman honored its seven seniors: Brougham, Fonzeca, Hasson, Taylor Chock, Kate Potter, Libby Watkins and Claire Westcott.
Whitman ends its season Saturday with a noon game against Willamette in Salem, Ore.