Tough to take

August 25, 2017

After administering two shutouts to start the 2017 season, The Master's University men's soccer team had the tables turned on it Friday afternoon when UC Merced scored a first-half goal and made it stand up for a 1-0 victory.

The loss capped a two-match road trip to the Bay Area for the Mustangs, who fell to 2-1.

From the start, the Mustangs came out, in the words of head coach Jim Rickard, "flat that resulted in a disappointing start."

Still, the Mustangs had multiple opportunities to score, firing seven shots on goal.  Three of those came in the first half, two of them within the first 15:30 of play and both of those from Trevor Mangan.  The junior forward fired one at the net at the 9:13 mark that was saved by Bobcat goalie David Hernandez.  Just over six minutes later (15:30), Mangan tried again and was turned back by Hernandez again.

Benjamin Tembo, who had scored four goals in the club's first two games, was looking for number five in the 35th minute (34:15), but Hernandez was up to the task once again.

Up until that point, Mustang goalie Casey Phillips, who had two shutouts on his 2017 resume, had matched Hernandez save for save.  Then, in the 37th minute (36:46), the Bobcats spoiled Phillips' bid for a third blanking when Artemio Contreras got one by him for what turned out to be the game-winner. 

Other than that, Phillips was superb once again, recording a season-high eight saves.

The Bobcats switched goalies for the second half, replacing Hernandez with Bernardo Garcia and there was no letdown in protection between the pipes.  The Mustangs put four more shots on goal in the second half and Garcia turned back every attempt, including a final one by Leonardo Anjos with 6:04 left to play.

Despite their inability to find the net, the Mustangs' second-half effort was praised by Rickard, who said, "We came out with much better energy and consistency over the second half but couldn't fin the equalizer.  It was discouraging to follow up a great win (vs. Southern Oregon on Thursday) with such a poor first half."

The Mustangs, looking for more offense to complement their excellent defense, return to Southern California for a match at the University of Antelope Valley on August 31.