In a match that was dominated by physical midfield play, The Master’s University men’s soccer team lost a non-conference game to the Vanguard Lions 1-0 Wednesday on Reese Field.
The two teams combined for just five shots in the first half and eight in the second, with the Mustangs gaining a 7-6 edge for the match over the Lions.
The loss is just the second of the season for The Master’s, taking their record to 3-2-2.
“You never want to lose, but it was a battle and we still have the war ahead,” said Head Coach Jim Rickard, referring to the fact that this was not a conference game. “The next game or two (if we see them in the playoffs) are the most important. I told (the team) afterward it was important for them to see what a conference game is like. At the end it was getting very passionate and almost a little out of control. There isn’t anyone in conference that we will play that it isn’t straight up chaos.”
Even though the shots tell a different story (4-1 in favor of TMU), the first half was controlled by Vanguard.
“We didn’t have an attacking mindset in the first half,” Rickard said. “I really challenged them at halftime to work… to communicate and work. It’s a physical game and you have to run. I think we did a better job of that in the second half.”
The one shot Vanguard took in the first half proved to be the difference maker. The goal by Sidney Dina in the 37th minute came off a bad pass from TMU, allowing the forward to drive to the goal and beat Kian Bensend in the upper right corner of the net.
“It was a turnover by us,” Rickard said. “A bad decision, and the guy took a shot and it went in. Against good teams you have to score goals, you have to finish. What happened today was our timing was not good. It was too slow. The quality of our cross needs to get better and we need to get more people in the box.”
Bensend finished with three saves, none better than late in the second half when he was one-on-one against a Vanguard forward. His kick save knocked the shot over the crossbar.
“He was called upon to keep us in the game,” said Rickard. “And he did just that.”
This Saturday The Master’s hosts Bethesda for their final tune-up before conference play begins. The match starts at 2 p.m. followed by the annual Alumni game at 4 p.m.