MSUB media release
BILLINGS – Beginning the 2016 season on the road, the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team challenges a pair of Colorado opponents this weekend in Colorado Christian University and Western State Colorado.
The season-opener will kick off at 3 p.m. on Thursday against the Cougars, and the ‘Jackets will take on the Mountaineers two days later in an 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday. Both matches will feature live statistics, and Thursday’s match will have live video available through www.msubsports.com.
The matches will be the first of five non-conference opponents that MSUB will encounter, as MSUB will make its home regular-season debut next week against San Francisco State and the University of Mary. After a match against the College of Idaho on Sept. 18, the ‘Jackets will open their 12-game Great Northwest Athletic Conference campaign at home against Western Oregon University and Concordia University.
MSUB found its rhythm in its final two preseason exhibition contests, outscoring Sheridan College and Northwest College 8-0 in its last two matches. The Yellowjackets will look to carry the momentum into this weekend’s games, as they begin the quest towards their third straight GNAC Championships tournament appearance and fourth overall in the last five seasons.
The ‘Jackets rebounded from a narrow 1-0 defeat against Rocky Mountain College their first time on the pitch, with a resounding 3-0 win over Sheridan. Along with familiar faces in the starting lineup in returners like senior captain Kari Kastelic, it was a pair of freshmen who stood out most in MSUB’s first two games.
Defender Amanda Hemmen played the full 90 minutes at center back against the Bears, slotting in immediately at a crucial position for a defense that ranked fourth in the GNAC in goals allowed a season ago. Against the Generals, it was the left foot of freshman Alexa Iacolucci that pushed MSUB to victory, as she powered home a pair of long-range shots from beyond 25 yards out in the 3-0 shutout win.
After a refreshing boost from MSUB’s new players in its first two games, the veterans got to work and carried the team to a one-sided win last Saturday against NWC. Junior Jessica Spang and sophomore Alycia Wright, who were the top-two scorers from last season’s squad with 11 combined goals, each scored twice and had an assist in the win. Sophomore Bailey Griglio, the team’s third-leading scorer with three goals last year, also found the net on an assist from goalkeeper Lili Delgadillo.
“It’s nice to start off the season early with a few goals, and just to be confident and comfortable up top,” Spang said regarding the strong offensive showing from her and Wright. “It’s really great to be up there with Alycia, and we have built a good relationship off the field as well. I am really excited to head into the season, and a lot of the freshmen coming in are really strong players.”
In addition to keeping the back line organized, Kastelic found herself on the scoresheet in the preseason as well, nodding home a corner-kick cross from freshman Claire Tevaseu to kick off the scoring against Sheridan. Having played every minute (3,201) in her two seasons at MSUB so far, Kastelic’s primary duties in the preseason have been getting Hemmen and fellow freshmen Courteney Shovlin and Kalin Sandow up to speed and comfortable with the college game on the defensive unit.
“So far the transition has been pretty smooth,” Shovlin commented on adapting to the college pace of play. “Kari is super confident in the back line, and her communication is really good. She makes it easy for me with how she tells me to do things.”
Shovlin, a Great Falls, Mont., native, led the team with 250 minutes played in three matches and figures to see extended playing time at outside back and center back.
Playing behind the defense, sophomores Katelynn Kerkvliet and Delgadillo split time in goal during the preseason. Kerkvliet played all 90 minutes in the shutout of Sheridan, while each keeper covered one half in the clean sheet against the Trappers. Delgadillo is the lone returner in goal who has experience, starting two matches and making eight saves as a true freshman in 2015.
Thursday, September 1 – at Colorado Christian University Cougars – 3 PM MTN Time
Trailblazer Stadium – Lakewood, CO – Live Stats – Live Video
2016 Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Tammy McPherson, 1st season
2015 Record: 0-15-3, 0-12-2 RMAC
Despite coming away from the 2015 season without a victory, Colorado Christian is set for a new beginning under first-year head coach and alumna Tammy McPherson.
The Cougars scored just eight goals last season, but six of the team’s seven goal scorers return including leading scorer Meghan Troupe. Senior midfielder Mariah Fredericks will also be a key player for CCU, as she totaled 1,201 minutes and contributed a goal while starting all 18 matches in 2015.
Caitlyn Troupe will anchor the defensive unit as a senior, after starting all 18 matches and leading the team with 1,647 minutes played last year. Sophomore Dakoda McCullough is another strong returner on the defensive end, as she played in 15 matches and logged more than 1,100 minutes as a redshirt freshman.
The Cougars also have senior experience in goal in the form of Shaya Lawrence. Making 13 starts in 2015, Lawrence totaled 67 saves and held a goals-against average of 1.83.
Though CCU did not come out on the winning end last year, 11 of the team’s 15 losses were by a single goal, signaling the team played opponents close consistently.
The Series: MSUB is 2-1 all-time against CCU, and has won two matches in-a-row dating back to the teams’ last encounter during the 2011 season.
Last Time Out: Kastelic’s older sister Kristen scored in the 47th minute, and Heidi Greenback added a goal in the 64th to give the ‘Jackets a 2-0 victory at Yellowjacket Field on Sept. 2, 2011.
Saturday, September 3 – at Western State Colorado Mountaineers – 11 AM MTN Time
Gateway Field – Gunnison, CO – Live Stats
2016 Record: 0-0
Head Coach: Jeremy Clevenger, 4th season
2015 Record: 7-7-4, 4-5-2 RMAC
Coming off of a .500 season, the Mountaineers will look to build on a solid defensive showing from a season ago as they allowed 15 goals while scoring 19.
The team will welcome back its leading scorer Jennifer Kahle, who punched home five goals and added an assist in 15 matches primarily off the bench.
Senior Izzy Engeman is the top defender returning to the team, as she started 16 matches last year and contributed heavily to the team’s eight shutouts. Though the Mountaineers lost goalkeeping standout Meghan Jedzejewski, who had seven shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.79, Katie Simpson-Johnson returns having played in five matches and posting a goals-against average of 0.83.
Ingrid Alvarez is another offensive player who has potential, as she played in all 18 matches last year and scored a pair of goals with a team third-best 30 shots.
The Mountaineers will open their 2016 season on Thursday against Eastern New Mexico University, before challenging the ‘Jackets on Saturday.
The Series: Saturday’s meeting will be the first-ever between MSUB and Western State.