SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- The leading goal scorers for Master's U Women's Soccer each added another tally to lead the Lady Mustangs to an important early season victory over #7 Keiser University (FL).
TMU started the game very well and were the definite aggressors during the first ten minutes. However, it was the Seahawks who drew first blood against the run of play when Tova Nilsson hit a wonder strike from 22 yards out into a headwind that floated over the outstretched glove of Mustang keeper Lacey Lehman (Acton, CA) and just under the crossbar. Facing a deficit for the first time this season, The Lady Mustangs had the task of refocusing in order to claw their way back into the match.
Methodically, TMU found ways to gain their confidence once again and hit their stride. Nearly ten minutes later, the efforts were rewarded as Hannah Bahr (Saugus, CA) was taken down in the box to earn a penalty kick for the Mustangs. Hailey Gomillion (Lancaster, CA) calmly stepped up and placed a perfect spot kick into the lower right side of the goal to knot the game at 1-1. In the process, the 27th minute goal became her team leading, 4th goal of the season.
Coach Lewis commented, "We are a different team this year and have been able to break through all the tests sent to us so far. To go down 1-0 to a talented team could be the breaking point for most teams, but our girls amped up the pressure and earned a PK."
Both teams settled in after the score was leveled and neither team seemed to have an advantage in possession through the remainder of the first half.
However, just 63 seconds into the 2nd half, Master's U got the attention of everyone at Reese field as wonderful teamwork led to a clinical finish. Sarah Stead (Murrieta, CA) and Suzanne Mabie (Ladera Ranch, CA) shared the ball as they advanced through the midfield and found a streaking Jasmine Parada on the left side. Parada carried the ball into the box and calmly slotted the ball inside the right post to give the Mustangs a 2-1 advantage. The goal was Parada's 4th of the year, once again giving her a share of the team scoring lead with Gomillion.
TMU continued to press the issue, play on the front foot, and were rewarded in short order. In the 51st minute, Sarah Stead once again set up her teammate as she freed up Lynnae George (Mill Creek, WA) who finished in a carbon copy fashion to Parada's goal to double the Mustangs' lead. "Three more goals by three forwards is something that will propel us far this year if we can sustain the goal scoring," said Coach Lewis. "Proud of the legitimate goal scoring opportunities that we are creating."
Opportunities did continue to come for TMU during the middle portion of the 2nd half. Parada hit the post. Stead's rip from the top of the box was saved. Brooke Rickard (Santa Clarita, CA) sent one just outside the left post. Mabie was unlucky as the ball went over the crossbar with a touch from inside the six yard box in the 84th minute.
Then things became interesting. In the 86th minute, Fillipa Millqvist found Seahawks teammate Riley McLeod in the box which led to Keiser cutting their deficit in half. With missed opportunities in the Mustangs' memory and a slim one goal lead, the fortitude of this TMU squad would be tested over the last four minutes. "Today was a good lesson that you can't let a really good team back in the game. It could have been 4 or 5 to 1, but we instead let them counter on us and now we are 'game on' at 3-2. They could have easily scored at the very end of the game, but we were able to escape."
The escape referred to by Coach Lewis was a brilliant 88th minute save from goalkeeper Kaylee Poffek (Oak Hills, CA). Poffek had been pressed into duty when the results of a first half collision forced starting net minder, Lacey Lehman to leave the match. Eleven minutes earlier, Poffek made an equally solid diving save in the 77th minute. "(We need to) recognize Kaylee Poffek for stepping in and playing keeper for us today and making two great saves," reflected Coach Lewis. The final escape occurred in the 90th minute when a look at an open net from a tight angle by Ebba Gustafsson trickled right of the goal frame.
"I was very proud of how our girls put everything they had into this game today. Keiser is a very talented team and will have a great year. Anytime you play against a team, with so many internationals, you face talented players who are usually tactically superior and Keiser really put us to the test. Credit to Matt and his squad for really crawling back into the game and not quitting. It was a hot day and the elements were difficult to play in. They will probably go win the Sun Conference. To beat them today was a great step for our program."
The Lady Mustangs have now beaten two squads that were heralded in the Top 10 of the NAIA Pre-season Women's Soccer Coaches Poll. The Mustangs will return to action on Reese field for a scrimmage with Shepherd University on Friday, September 1st, before hosting a Labor Day Tournament here in Santa Clarita on the 2nd and 4th of September.