October 7, 2017
With the Mustangs holding a commanding two-goal lead and with more than half the game left to go, Vanessa Lourenco played like someone pressed for time.
The Master’s junior entered Saturday’s 5-0 home win over Hope International in the 19th minute.
By the time she hustled off the sideline and took up her position at forward, roughly 10 seconds had ticked off the clock.
Before another 10 seconds passed, she scored her first goal of the season.
It all but sealed a win in which Lourenco’s team showed it could get things turned around in a hurry.
After a 3-1 loss to No. 7 Vanguard on Wednesday, the No. 9 Mustangs focused on returning to what they’d done at the beginning of the season when they won their first seven games.
“We talked a lot about getting back to what made us good – hard work, pressing and serving one another,” said coach Curtis Lewis. “And I think we got back to it today.”
The Mustangs (12-2, 5-1 GSAC) knew Hope would be physical like Ottawa from Kansas and Vanguard – the only teams to beat Master’s this year – had been. But the Mustangs also knew the Royals played a style centered on possession.
The plan: Mustang forwards would harass Hope in the Royals’ back third. It worked. Hope managed just three shots in each half.
The Mustangs, on the other hand, shot it six times before the break, converting three times.
Kellian Ahearn headed home the first score in the fourth minute off a Taylor Rowden pass. It was Ahearn’s second goal in as many games.
Ten minutes later, Jasmine Parada scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season. The Mustangs hardly slowed down from there. But Lewis said the first goal set the tone.
“It was massive,” Lewis said.
Then in the 18th minute, Lourenco redirected a pass from Hailey Gomillion into the net.
“I looked right at her and she played it right to me,” Lourenco said. “…It was a big confidence boost.”
Sophomore defender Kayla Peterson answered the first goal of Lourenco’s season with the first goal of her career.
Shortly after halftime, Peterson put the ball in the net on a free kick not far outside the 18-yard box. And, after recording an assist last week, she said it might be time to call it a career.
“I've decided to retire now that I have a goal and an assist,” she said. “I decided I'm now done and I’ll play it safe.”
On a more serious note, Peterson said the Mustangs focused on playing as a unit on Saturday.
At practice, the Mustangs worked on interpersonal relationships and on finding their identities in Christ and being members of a team.
“At the beginning of the year, you don’t have school yet and you spend a lot of time together. It’s not about all the extras,” Lewis said. “You get into school and as a coach you forget that you’re not getting relationship time. Everyone (is doing their own thing) and there’s all these pressures and it’s soccer, the grind of soccer.
“Our team, specially, we don’t play well when it’s just the grind. There has to be relational value.”
There were plenty of celebratory hugs Saturday. Shelby Willis capped the day’s scoring with a goal off a Jenae Garcia assist in the 70th minute.
The Mustangs play next Saturday at Westmont in another game with important Golden State Athletic Conference implications. Master’s currently sits two points ahead of No. 6 Westmont for second place in the conference standings.