Showing no ill effects from a 15-day layoff, The Master’s College men’s soccer team scored two minutes into Thursday’s NCCAA West Region semi-final match against Hope International and went on to equal a season-high in goals with a 7-1 rout of the Royals on Reese Field.
The Mustangs’ victory, snapping a four-game losing skid, moved them into the region final on Saturday at California Baptist. The winner of that match will qualify for the NCCAA National Tournament, November 30-December 3, in Kissimmee, Florida.
It took all of 2:13 for the Mustangs (11-5-3) to strike as sophomore Kevin Scheunemann took a pass from junior All-GSAC selection Jorge Serrano and shot it by Royal goalie Marcos Topolos for a lead they would never relinquish. It was Serrano’s team-best 12th assist of the season.
Just less than four minutes later, the Mustangs doubled their lead when Serrano, on the receiving end of a pass from senior Marcelo Silva, tallied his team-high 10th goal of the campaign.
That 2-0 lead stayed put for over 34 minutes before the Royals, on a free kick by Matthew Howard, halved the deficit at the 40:19 mark.
But the Mustangs didn’t take long in answering back as the freshman duo of Jonathan Taves and Zach Egeler combined to restore the club’s two-goal margin. With just 3:28 left in the half, Taves notched his sixth goal of the year, sending the Mustangs to the break up 3-1.
At halftime, the Mustangs held a narrow 9-8 advantage in shots and junior goalie Andrew Bussell had five saves in a very competitive 45 minutes of action.
In comparison, the second half was all Mustangs. Once again, they scored early and then ran away with the match. Taking advantage of a foul in the box, senior Joel Peluffo converted a penalty kick, his third goal of the season, into a 4-1 lead.
Just over 11 minutes later (60:45), the advantage grew to 5-1 when Peluffo fed Silva for his fourth goal of the year. Then, less than two minutes later 62:04), Scheunemann tallied his second goal of the match on Silva’s 11th assist of the season.
The Mustangs capped things off in the match’s final minute (89:05) when freshman Jack Holmlund scored in unassisted fashion.
Dominating play over the final 45 minutes, the Mustangs outshot the Royals 12-5 and finished with a 21-13 edge. Bussell wound up with six saves.
Saturday’s match with the Lancers, former members of the GSAC, will start at 1 p.m. in Riverside.