In light of how well The Master’s University women’s soccer team had played through the season’s first seven games, it may have been easier for coach Curtis Lewis to swallow Thursday’s 4-0 home loss to Ottawa University.
To that effect, the coach’s tone remained calm and upbeat, even if his words weren’t necessarily toned down.
“Just a good, old-fashioned butt whooping, that’s what we got today,” Lewis said. “We didn’t play. That first half was like, who are we?”
Entering the game, the Mustangs (7-1) were the No. 9 ranked team in the NAIA prepping for a non-conference showdown with a squad from Kansas that had packed its No. 13 ranking for a West Coast trip.
Then Master’s tripped.
Before halftime, the Braves (4-0-1) broke through the Mustang defense for three goals, the last a backbreaker that came with two seconds on the clock.
“I told them at half, I said, ‘Look, it’s very difficult to come back from three-nothing, but you can’t lose this five-nothing,’” Lewis recounted. “‘You have to go play. You have to be who you are.’”
For the first month of the season, that’s been a team characterized by an electric offense and a stingy defense.
On their way to 7-0, the Mustangs knocked off four teams ranked in the NAIA top 25 and, with little exception, made the whole thing look pretty easy.
Thursday, the Braves attacked from the get-go.
In the 10th minute, Ottawa’s Caroline Jenkins stole the ball near the edge of the Mustangs’ defensive third, made a nifty move and hurtled down the sideline.
As she neared the baseline, she chipped a pass across the front of the goal to Ady Barraza, who jumped and one-timed it, redirecting the ball away from four Master’s players and gently into the net.
The Mustangs, however, are intent on not letting the game redirect the season.
“All we have to do is come in with the same mentality we have been coming in with,” said Mustang Jasmine Parada. “This game is in the past. We just have to keep building from here.”
The Mustangs open Golden State Athletic Conference play at home next week against Menlo. Lewis, for one, is glad a clunker came Thursday instead of in conference.
“The second half was much, much, much better,” Lewis said. “We created some pretty decent opportunities in the second half even though we didn’t score.”
Here’s the box score.