Taylor Shahi’s goal on a direct kick with under 10 minutes left to play Saturday evening capped a furious comeback by The Master’s College as the Mustangs rallied past 24th-ranked Biola 2-1 in La Mirada.
In one sense, the victory was satisfying in that it gained a measure of revenge for a 1-0 loss to the Eagles back on October 26. On the other hand, all it did was earn the Mustangs (8-9-1, 4-5-1 GSAC) a return trip to La Mirada on Wednesday for the opener of the GSAC Tournament against the third-seeded Eagles.
Although both clubs were guaranteed a spot in the conference tournament before they took to the pitch, each wanted to close the regular season on a high note. For over 78 minutes, it appeared like the Eagles were going to be the one that did.
Even then, it took the hosts well into the second half before they drew first blood. They did so at 69:22 when Mustang goalie Andrew Bussell (Bakersfield, CA) couldn’t corral a laser off the foot of Eagle Stephen Day and when teammate Carlos Ballesteros picked it up, he had an easy shot for a 1-0 advantage.
That lead lasted a little more than nine minutes before the Mustangs knotted things up. It happened when freshman Joey Mikulas (Monument, CO), in the middle of a scrum in front of the net, found the ball and put it by Biola keeper Andrew Crichton from seven yards out for the tying goal at the 78:47 mark.
Then, just over a minute later, the Mustangs surged ahead. The opportunity came about after Eagle Joao Toscan was red-carded. That set up Taylor Shahi (Santa Rosa, CA) for a direct kick and the club’s leading scorer came through, whistling one past Crichton for the tie-breaking and game-winning goal with 9:54 left to play. It was Shahi’s ninth tally of the season.
Down the stretch, the Mustangs held off the Eagles with Bussell recording the last of his eight saves in the match’s waning moments.
Now with something even more important on the line, the Mustangs return to La Mirada on Wednesday to tangle with the Eagles one last time in 2012. Kick-off is set for 7:00pm.
Avenging an earlier loss, Biola defeated The Master’s College 3-1 Saturday afternoon in La Mirada, vaulting over the Mustangs and into third place on the final day of the regular season.
The loss dropped the 23rd-ranked Mustangs (11-5-2, 6-4 GSAC) into fourth place in the conference standings, meaning that TMC will open play in the GSAC Tournament on Tuesday, hosting Concordia.
Although it took a while, Biola broke the ice in the first half and never looked back. In the match’s 39th minute (38:45), Eagle Stephanie Cubias took a pass from teammate Victoria Dalla Zanna and beat an onrushing Ilyssa Espiritu (Bakersfield, CA) for a 1-0 lead.
That was the margin at halftime, completing a half in which both squads shot five times and each goalie had two saves.
The Eagles matched that same shot total in the second stanza and were actually outshot (8-5) by the Mustangs but they made more of their opportunties count. A little less than 13 minutes (12:57) into the final period, Eagle Michelle Clark sent a cross from about 25 yards out that Jessica Austin one-touched past Espiritu and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
That tally proved to be the game-winner because the Mustangs finally dented the scoreboard at the 78:26 mark when Jasmine Benson (Corona, CA), taking advantage of Eagle goalie Briana Williams’ failure to hold on to a cross, pushed the ball past the Biola keeper from five yards out to halve the deficit. It was the sophomore midfielder’s seventh goal of the year.
But, that was all the Mustangs could manage on offense and when the Eagles tallied an insurance goal with one tick left on the clock, revenge had been gained following a 2-1 overtime loss to TMC on September 25.
Now, the Mustangs have two days to prepare for the GSAC Tournament and a first-round date with Concordia on Tuesday. Back on October 3, the Mustangs shut out the Eagles 2-0. Match time is set for 2:00pm on Reese Field.