If The Master’s University women’s soccer team was a golfer, you’d say it was trying to salvage par somewhere deep on the back nine, still with a shot for a big-money prize at the end of the day.
The Mustangs drove north to the Bay Area this week entrenched in third place of the Golden State Athletic Conference. After a frustrating tie with Menlo College on Thursday, Master’s set its sights on William Jessup and headed south. Its season didn’t follow suit.
Early in Saturday’s second half, Sarah Stead chipped a short shot over the Jessup keeper’s head and into the goal, and Master’s hung on for a 1-0 win, its first shutout in two weeks.
More importantly, the Mustangs have clinched at least a home game in the GSAC tournament quarterfinals. And with Westmont losing to Menlo on Saturday, the Mustangs and Westmont head into next weekend’s rematch tied for second place and the conference tourney’s final first-round bye.
“We have everything to play for on our home field,” said Mustang coach Curtis Lewis.
That’s because, for at least the third time this season, Master’s (13-3-1, 6-2-1 GSAC) didn’t let a less than desirable result carry over into the following game.
Thursday, the Mustangs led Menlo 2-0 early, but not even Jasmine Parada’s hat trick could keep Master’s out of its first tie of the year, 3-3.
Saturday featured far fewer goals in what was the Mustang backline’s best performance of the month, a happening that didn’t come by accident.
Practice Friday consisted of header drills and work focused on clearing the ball out of the back third. It paid off.
“I think Laura (English) only lost one head ball all game,” Lewis said. “They were organized, they stayed tight, and they didn’t give up a lot of ground.”
Offensively, Master’s earned six or seven clear scoring opportunities. And Stead finally put her team on the board in the 56th minute when she beat a defender down the right side and sent a cross toward a group of teammates.
“I got a little underneath the ball and it went into the net,” she said. “I’m super grateful I could serve the team in that way.”
Kaylee Poffek served the squad with a save and 90 minutes of no-goal soccer. Camille Cavey made five saves for Jessup, which again played the aggressive, physical style of soccer that’s plagued Master’s this season.
This time, the Mustangs rose to the challenge.
“I told the team before the game that at some point this year you need to figure out how to grind out a 1-0 win,” Lewis said.
Saturday was that day.
Here’s the box score.