The math is quite simple: Almost without exception, when The Master’s University women’s soccer team scores more than 50 goals collectively in a season, it advances to nationals.
When it doesn’t – like in 2018, when it accumulated only 40 – it typically finds itself watching the NAIA’s live stream from home. TMU head coach Curtis Lewis isn’t concerned with where the goals come from, just as long as they come.
“I could care less if that’s one girl with 20 and five each for the rest,” said Lewis, whose team received votes in the preseason NAIA Top 25 and was picked fourth in the Golden State Athletic Conference coaches’ poll.
“But typically what happens is if someone can get 12-ish, that frees other people up to get the fours and the fives,” he said. “If (our leading scorer) is in the sixes, then everyone else is in the ones and the twos and it doesn’t work that way. You need someone to shoulder the scoring responsibility.”
It isn’t certain who that player will be, but sophomore Kyndel Borman stepped forward during TMU’s season opener Saturday. She scored on a penalty kick and then put away the game-winner on a breakaway in the 83rd minute of a 2-1 win over Southern Oregon.
Borman tallied three goals in 2018 as a freshman, but by all accounts, she’s playing with more confidence in her second go-round.
“I’d say I’m definitely more confident on the ball,” Borman said. “I’m not trying to get rid of the ball as fast. If I’m in front of the goal, I’ll take that shot instead of giving it up.”
Another starting forward is Kayla Sims, who spent her first four years at Master’s climbing to second on the women’s volleyball program’s all-time assists list. With eligibility in soccer remaining, she elected to stay at Master’s in the fall and return to the sport she excelled at in high school.
At South Anchorage High, Sims compiled 22 goals and 11 assists as a senior, leading her team to its second straight state title. The love of soccer never fully left her.
“I wanted to play soccer because I really missed the game and I was given an opportunity to play both of the sports I loved in college,” Sims said. “After volleyball was over, I didn’t feel done competing at a high level, I wanted more.”
Another player who will help in the goal-scoring department is Sarah Stead. Stead played for the Mustangs from 2014 to 2017, redshirting in 2016. After graduating from Master’s, she wasn’t with the team last season, but she decided to return to pursue a graduate degree in 2019 and enjoy her final year of eligibility. Lewis believes the Mustangs, who finished 13-6-1 a year ago and lost in the semifinals of the GSAC tournament, sorely missed her on offense.
“I think (Jasmine Logan, the 2017 GSAC Player of the Year) was so good the year before because Stead was with her, like Batman and Robin,” Lewis said. “The way Stead plays, because she’s a fast dribbler, she draws defenders to herself and opens the game for other people.”
In this case, two of those people will be sophomore Emma Hopkins and freshman Anay Garcia, a willing passer with a great shot.
Of course, there will be times when the Mustangs aren’t required to score more than one goal. Master’s returns a backline that features three-time All-GSAC pick Kayla Peterson and senior Laura English, a three-year starter on defense. The Mustangs, who also return senior goalie Lacey Lehman, recorded 10 shutouts last season, the program’s most since at least 2006.
“Laura and I have played together since my freshman year,” Peterson said. “So going on our fourth year together, I think having our experience and chemistry gives our three-back system an edge. I know exactly where Laura will be and what she’ll do, and likewise her with me. It brings a lot of trust and strength on the backline.”
Working in on defense will be junior Payton Williams, who Lewis said is much improved, sophomore Seren Tamayo, who started at center back Saturday, and freshman Alexandria Dunn.
The midfield consists of seniors Hannah Bahr, Erin Barr and Suzanne Mabie, along with Stead and Elizabeth Radmilovich, a freshman who has impressed Lewis with her non-stop energy.
“She probably has the best engine of any girl I’ve ever seen come through here,” Lewis said.
Bahr, for her part, contributed to the winning goal Saturday, flicking the soccer ball out ahead of Borman, who tracked it down and directed it past Southern Oregon’s keeper.
It was Borman’s second goal of the day, and it moved the Mustangs within 48 goals of where it hopes to be. Lewis has done the math.
“If our goal is 50 goals, that’s about 2.7 goals per game. Some games you’ll be at 1-0, so some games you have to be at 4-0, right?” Lewis said.
— By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director