An experiment with TMU senior Kayla Peterson over the weekend helped pave the way for a 4-1 win over Benedictine University at Mesa on Tuesday.
Master’s coach Curtis Lewis fielded Peterson, a three-time all-conference defender, at forward on Saturday, and he was impressed enough by Peterson’s ability to use her speed and aggression on offense that Tuesday he decided to start her up top.
Peterson made good on the decision, scoring two first-half goals in a game in which the Mustangs never trailed. After Benedictine cut the deficit in half, Master’s tacked on two goals over the final 45 minutes — one each from Sarah Stead and Kayla Monick — to pull away.
Peterson, who scored once during her first three seasons at Master’s, got the ball rolling — her goals coming roughly one minute apart.
“She’s fast and everything she knows about defense she can reverse that,” Lewis said.
Peterson scored on a breakaway in the 18th minute, then, 67 seconds later, she flicked in a cross. In the process, she became the second Mustang in as many games to record a multi-goal performance. In Saturday’s 2-1 win over Southern Oregon, Kyndel Borman tallied two goals, jumpstarting the Mustangs’ pursuit of 50 collective goals for the season. Lewis believes that mark will position his team for a postseason berth.
What role Peterson will play in that journey — on offense or defense — will likely depend on how well Laura English, Payton Williams, Seren Tamayo and Alexandria Dunn continue to play along the backline. They were good again Tuesday, limiting Benedictine to four shots, two in each half.
Mustang keeper Lacey Lehman made two saves.
“I don’t know if I can keep her (at forward), but the backline is getting better and better,” Lewis said. “… (Peterson) definitely gives us an option moving forward.”
Stead, who returned to pursue a graduate degree at TMU after a one-year hiatus, scored her first goal since Nov. 3, 2017, in the 50th minute. On the play, she ran onto a Kayla Sims through ball and found herself alone with Benedictine’s keeper.
“I lifted the ball just to get it past the goalie into the back of the net,” she said. “The best part of the goal was my team waiting on the sideline for me to come celebrate.”
That was also the part of Monick’s goal that the junior found most exciting. She described scoring her first collegiate goal in the 73rd minute as “surreal”.
“Seeing all the girls excited reminds me of why I’m on this team,” Monick said. “I’m just so thankful for any opportunity to serve this team and work hard and use it as my worship.”
The Mustangs will play NAIA No. 10 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (AZ) on Thursday in Prescott. Lewis knows what’s at stake for the Mustangs, who received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll.
“I think a good showing by our team can move us into the top 25,” Lewis said. “If we can show up and play a solid 90 minutes that game, it can put us back on the map. … If you show you can compete with a team in the top 10, that can help put us where we want to be.”
— Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director