SANTA BARBARA — This was not the Ottawa loss. This was not the Vanguard runaway setback.
Master’s players and coaches alike were adamant after Saturday’s top-10 matchup that Westmont’s 5-2 win wasn’t nearly as lopsided as the score suggests.
“It was a lot worse on paper than it feels,” said Master’s senior Victoria Gama.
The Mustangs’ play midway through the second half backed that sentiment.
Kaylee Poffek, playing forward, and midfielder Hannah Bahr provided a boost of energy off the bench for NAIA No. 9 Master’s. Hailey Gomillion and Vanessa Lourenco turned the wave of energy into a goal.
In the 75th minute, Gomillion sent a bouncing ball deep into Westmont’s 18-yard box. Lourenco directed it into the net for her second goal of the year and second in two games.
“There was a 10-minute span there in the second half where I thought we were going to come back and win,” Gomillion said. “… We were dangerous, and we showed we can compete.”
Moments later, Suzanne Mabie navigated inside and scored, but an offsides call erased the would-be equalizer.
In the 82nd minute, Maddi Berthoud erased any hope of a Mustang comeback, blasting the ball into the net for her fourth goal of the game.
Berthoud entered the match with four goals all season, and her career day fogged any memory of the Mustangs’ strong start.
Jasmine Parada scored her 12th goal of the season in the seventh minute. It came off a Mabie assist, and it broke a trend of slow starts in big games.
Against Ottawa and Vanguard, the Mustangs’ only other losses, Master’s fell behind early and never found its footing.
“I think that early goal helped us gain momentum,” Gama said. “It’s always a battle playing people on their senior day because energy is high and adrenaline is high on the other team. We had to match that.”
Momentum, and the lead, went No. 8 Westmont’s way before long, though.
Berthoud tied it up in the 11th minute, then she gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later, slanting the spotlight toward a sophomore on senior day.
Destinee Adams scored a penalty kick in the 89th minute, setting the final score, but not the course for the rest of the Mustangs’ season.
“This just shows that we can play with this team,” Parada said. “The score doesn’t determine how good of a game this was.”
Here’s the box score.
The Mustangs will host Westmont on Oct. 28 in the regular-season finale.