BILLINGS – JD Hauenstein lifted the Montana State University Billings men’s soccer team to a roaring comeback win over Saint Martin’s University on Saturday afternoon at Yellowjacket Field, scoring a pair of goals in the 4-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference win.
MSUB (5-5, 3-1 GNAC) fell behind 1-0 in just the second minute, when SMU’s Sebastian Navarro laced home a 25-yard free kick. It was all Yellowjackets after that however, as the home team built a 3-1 lead by halftime and added a final goal late in the second half to win for the fifth time in its last six matches.
Saint Martin’s dropped to 0-9 on the season, and is now 0-4 in league play.
“We weren’t happy with how we started the game, but fortunately the guys reacted very well,” said MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “In the first half, we saw some of the best soccer we have seen on this field, and we made the ball move around well. This is a good GNAC win for us, and the guys deserve a lot of credit.”
Though the match was fairly even in shots – 11-10 in favor of MSUB – the Yellowjackets were highly efficient as they scored on 4 of 7 shots on target.
The Saints held their lead for approximately 20 minutes, before the ‘Jackets broke through on a mild, sunny afternoon. Senior Victor Sanchez gathered a loose ball inside the box on the right side, and lifted a cross towards the far post where Hauenstein nodded it into the back of the net from five yards away.
Less than five minutes later, MSUB’s leading scorer doubled his tally after creating another dangerous chance inside the box. After Hauenstein’s initial attempt rolled off the right goal post, senior Niklas Schregel fed it back towards the six-yard box where the former had an easy finish. “The way we responded to the early goal showed our character in the game,” said Hauenstein. “I feel really good going into the game against Simon Fraser next week.”
With seven minutes to play in the opening half, MSUB put away its third score of the match after earning a free kick deep down the left side of the field. Guillaume Kremer lobbed in a perfect cross towards the far post, and Aidan Raj burst forward to head home his first-career goal.
“Guillaume’s services are quality, and to have the ball played in like that makes everyone’s job easy,” Raj said. “We never want to concede a goal early on, and that set the tone for the rest of the game. We stepped it up a bit, and made sure that our possessions played out well for us.”
The ‘Jackets out-shot the Saints 8-2 in the opening half, and won a pair of corner kicks.
Saint Martin’s battled back to open the second period, and created a handful of opportunities in the offensive third. SMU’s Brandon Madsen led the charge with four shots in the match, contributing to the Saints’ 8-3 edge in shots over the final 45 minutes.
MSUB goalkeeper Tom Lohmann came through when needed, tallying four saves in the game. With his seven saves total on the weekend, he moved to No. 2 on the all-time MSUB charts with 178 overall in his career with the ‘Jackets.
The final goal of the match came with 12 minutes to play, and was ignited by sophomore Ignacio Crespo out of the midfield. Playing a stellar through ball to Dana Kowachek in the box, Crespo watched as the next pass cut across the goalmouth to Eli Williams for his second score of the season.
Crespo turned in 66 excellent minutes off the bench on Saturday, coming on in the first half and remaining on the pitch the rest of the day.
Defensively, Oliver Posarelli and Realf Zhivanaj contributed 90-minute efforts as the team’s center backs.
MSUB KICKS CANCER: Saturday was MSUB Kicks Cancer Day at Yellowjacket Field, and the Yellowjackets donated all proceeds from the match to the American Cancer Society. Mandy Easton, mother of MSUB men’s soccer Team IMPACT member Sebastien Easton, performed a ceremonial kickoff to begin the day’s action.
THE BUZZ: Raj was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…the ‘Jackets improved to 13-6-2 all-time against the Saints, and are now 8-2-1 in games played at Yellowjacket Field…Kremer leads the team with four assists this season…the two-goal performance was Hauenstein’s first-career multi-goal game.
AHEAD: MSUB hits the road next week, with just one conference contest on match. The ‘Jackets will head to Burnaby, British Columbia to square off against Simon Fraser University on Oct. 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. under the lights at Terry Fox Field.