(MSU Billings release)
LACEY, Wash. - Multi-goal games from Christian Thode and Andres Perez helped lead Montana State University Billings men’s soccer to a 5-1 victory over Saint Martin’s University in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game Thursday afternoon at SMU Soccer Field. Bryan Maxwell also scored and Shantik Bedrosian added a pair of assists in what was MSUB’s biggest offensive outbreak this season.
The Yellowjackets (5-4-1, 2-1-0 GNAC) moved into second place in the GNAC standings with six points. MSUB scored five goals in a game for the first time since September 2018. The Saints (5-3-2, 0-2-1 GNAC) dropped their second game at home and remain on the hunt for a first conference win.
Jason Fairhurst put SMU ahead 1-0 after he took a floating corner pass from Sebastian Navarro and headed the ball past MSUB goalkeeper Jessy Martin five minutes and 10 seconds into the contest. Bryan Maxwell responded less than two minutes later with a one-touch strike off a pass inside the box from Bedrosian. Yaniss Aka added the second assist to Maxwell’s equalizer.
“It was important for us to start the game on the right foot by bringing a lot of intensity,” commented head coach Thomas Chameraud. “We conceded the goal right away that could have set us back, but I was proud of the reaction our players had because they put it behind them, followed the game plan, created chances, and capitalized on their opportunities.”
MSUB went in front 2-1 in the 13th minute of the game. Perez worked a passing lane through a maze of defenders and found the foot of Thode, who stayed onside and buried it. Perez scored again four minutes later after receiving a pass from Bedrosian to give the ‘Jackets their third goal in an 11 minute span.
Thode used his speed to break free for his second goal in the 42nd minute, which gave MSUB a 4-1 advantage at the break. To begin the second half, Perez tallied his second off a pass by Paul Cuevas in the 47th minute, effectively putting a comeback try out of reach for the Saints.
“Defensively, we stayed really strong and organized and we didn’t give SMU too many chances,” Chameraud said. “I am happy with the performance but we have to learn from last week and make sure we offer another strong effort at Seattle Pacific Saturday.”
The Yellowjackets outshot the Saints 21-13 (11-7 on goal) and Theo Lamare rang a shot off the far post in the closing minutes of the game. MSUB avenged two losses last season to SMU including a 4-2 defeat in Lacey and a 3-2 loss in Billings.
Jessy Martin made five saves and allowed one goal to earn the win in the net for MSUB. Dylan Shaw suffered the loss after allowing five goals and making six saves for SMU. Perez led all players with four shots on goal. Thode took seven shot attempts with three landing on frame.
Fairhurst and Oscar Aguilar recorded two shots on goal apiece for the Saints. MSUB earned seven corner opportunities, compared to four for SMU.
MSU Billings has nine regular season GNAC games remaining, with a rematch against Saint Martin’s in Billings November 2. Last fall, MSUB ended 4-7-1 in the conference. The Yellowjackets have won four of their last five games dating back to September 23, a 3-1 win over University of Mary.
UP NEXT: MSUB concludes its five game road swing Saturday at Seattle Pacific University (1-5-1, 0-2-0 GNAC) at 7 p.m. local time. Last season the ‘Jackets split a pair of 3-2 contests with the Falcons.
THE BUZZ: Andres Perez was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for the ‘Jackets. Perez leads the team with 12 points, four goals, and four assists. The sophomore midfielder/forward surpassed his 9-point total from 2018 with a career high four-point game against Saint Martin’s Thursday.