Through four games, The Master’s University men’s soccer team has played 429 minutes including more than an hour of overtime so far this season.
OT is when a team has typically drained most of its energy reserves and when one defensive blunder proves fatal.
Yet, the Mustangs remained unbeaten after Wednesday’s wild, back-and-forth 3-3 tie with Eastern Oregon University at TMU.
Dylan Bielanski recorded his first multi-goal game as a Mustang, and Luis Garcia Sosa also scored for TMU, which moved to 1-0-3 on the year, a mark that Garcia Sosa believes says something definitive about his club.
“It proves that our team has grit and we aren’t willing to give up,” the senior midfielder said.
Wednesday’s drama unfolded in the final 15 minutes of regulation.
Alexander Zuluaga scored for the Mountaineers in the 76th minute, tying the score 2-2. Then Bielanski answered back two minutes later.
On the play, Justin Ikeora zipped a pass to Garcia Sosa, who dropped it off to Bielanski. The fifth-year senior laced a shot past the Mountaineer keeper for his second goal of the night.
The Mustangs couldn’t celebrate for long.
In the 83rd minute, Joaquin Bermejillo’s shot rebounded off the crossbar and bounced near the goal line. Eastern Oregon’s Micah Hill soared in and headed the ball into the net to tie the score 3-3.
“I’m disappointed to give up three goals,” said TMU coach Jim Rickard, “but Eastern Oregon was very talented and had a lot of skill on the ball. We had a hard time keeping the ball, so we were defending a lot which is very tiring.”
Two overtimes drained what remained of the Mustangs’ energy. Eastern Oregon (1-2-1) – which was coming off a 2-1 loss to Marymount California in double overtime Monday – looked like the fresher team. The Mountaineers outshot the Mustangs 6-0 in overtime and 20-11 for the game.
“They were getting to a lot of the balls before we were and they were hungry to not give up any more goals,” Bielanski said of the two 10-minute overtimes. “I think they showed their fitness and physicality to a level that surpassed ours.”
Rickard knew that a fourth overtime game and Wednesday’s weather – temperatures were expected to surpass 100 degrees – would take a toll on his team.
“I credit the players for giving everything they had in the tank,” he said. “Dylan and Luis came up big for us today with timely goals to keep us ahead. … My team has a lot of grit and fight to them, and it’s going to take that commitment to have a successful season.
“We obviously wanted to win, but the game was so exhausting I think everyone was just glad it was over. I don’t think either team could have gone much farther.”
Price Anderson made eight saves for the Mustangs, several necessitating a dive and sure hands. On the other end, the Mustang attack scored a season-high three goals, none featuring more skill than Bielanski’s in the 48th minute, a score that temporarily put the Mustangs back ahead, 2-1.
“I can remember getting it from Brayden (Campos) inside the box with my back turned to goal,” Bielanski said. “I didn’t feel or see anyone around me so I took one touch with my right foot and turned to strike the ball on frame with my left. The keeper was marking the first post, and I turned on the ball just enough to put it past him on the far post. I saw it go in and went to celebrate with the team.”
Here’s the box score.
The Mustangs next turned their attention to a home non-conference game with Westcliff on Saturday.
— Game Recap By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director