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Playoffs hinge on final weekend for MSU Billings soccer women

Posted: 8:58 AM, Nov 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-06 11:35:12-05
MSUB WSoccer.JPG

(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)

BILLINGS –- Already three Great Northwest Athletic Conference wins better than a year ago, the Montana State University Billings women's soccer program still has a chance to finish .500 in the GNAC if they can win a pair of games on the road.

It starts Thursday, Nov. 7 against Simon Fraser at 6 p.m., then the regular season concludes Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. against Saint Martin’s. The positive results seen at home this season will have to transfer, for a Yellowjacket team, which has struggled mightily away from Billings. In order to take the fourth and final playoff position, MSUB must make up a difference of four points to Western Oregon this week.

“We are excited to still be in the hunt and we’ve talked about how we need to control the controllable this week,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “I think that we did a lot of good things against Central Washington last week and so we are looking to build off that performance.”

LAST TIME OUT: In one of their best outings this fall, the Yellowjackets bested Central Washington 2-1 at Yellowjacket Field last Thursday on a frigid day in the Magic City. Alexa Iacolucci tied the game just before halftime after a pass by Emily Gaines. Haylee Gunter found a rebound and buried the game winning goal in the 75th minute for the Yellowjackets. MSUB also snapped its four-game losing streak with the victory. The most heartbreaking of the four previous losses was a 2-1 overtime defeat to Saint Martin’s on October 24 in which the Saints scored with three seconds remaining in the extra session.

“I think with these road games, our team knows our backs are up against the wall and we need to find a way to get it done,” said Cavallo. “We’ve tried to duplicate everything we do at home because we want to finish the season on a high note. We’ve made great strides this season and Thursday is an opportunity to build on what we have created.”

2019 GNAC Women's Soccer Standings

Team

Conf

PTS

Overall

PCT

Home

Away

Neutral

Streak

*+Western Washington

11-0-0

33

15-2-0

.882

8-0-0

6-2-0

1-0-0

Won 11

*Seattle Pacific

8-2-0

24

10-6-0

.625

5-1-0

5-3-0

0-2-0

Won 2

*Western Oregon

6-3-2

20

9-5-3

.618

5-1-1

4-4-2

0-0-0

Lost 1

Central Washington

5-4-1

16

7-6-1

.536

3-3-0

3-3-1

1-1-0

Won 1

Montana State Billings

4-6-0

12

5-8-2

.400

4-3-1

1-5-0

0-0-1

Won 1

Northwest Nazarene

3-5-2

11

6-8-2

.438

4-3-1

1-4-1

1-1-0

Lost 1

Concordia

3-6-1

10

5-10-1

.344

3-4-1

2-6-0

0-0-0

Lost 2

Saint Martin's

2-8-0

6

4-11-2

.294

3-5-0

1-6-1

0-0-1

Won 1

Simon Fraser

1-9-0

3

1-12-1

.107

1-4-0

0-8-1

0-0-0

Lost 7

*-indicates clinched GNAC Championships berth +-indicates clinched regular season championship

TEAM EFFORT: Senior midfielder Alexa Iacolucci is the team leader in points with nine (three goals, three assists) and has 14 starts in 15 possible outings for MSUB. Haylee Gunter has started every game and has three goals and seven points to land second in the latter category. Other offensive contributions have come from Lexie Bloyder (two goals, one assists), Julia Keller (two goals, one assist), and Kiley Sandow (two goals, zero assists). Amanda Hemmen, Summer Miles, Lindsey Meyer, and Haley German all have single tallies as well.

“We’ve been a lot more dangerous this year on set pieces,” Cavallo said. “Alexa does a good job of putting the ball in good positions on the field and creating opportunities. We don’t have one player that has been scoring all the goals this year. Everyone has been chipping in when needed which is exciting to see. We’ve just had a better idea of what we want to do in the attacking third than in years past. More creativity with the ball has benefitted us for sure.”

HARDER TO BEAT: Erinn Harder pinned down the starting goalkeeper position early in the fall and has four clean sheets (tied for third most in the GNAC) to show for her hard work. In total, Harder has made 41 saves and holds a 1.74 goals against average and .641 save percentage, an improvement from 2018.

“Erinn has had a really good season,” Cavallo said. “She made a crucial late save to help us preserve the win against Central Washington. Minus just a few games, she has played really well all fall. We’ve kept strong defensively in part because of the three senior defenders in front of her but she’s made some big saves and manages the ball out of the back extremely well.”

Scouting Simon Fraser University

Thursday, November 7, 6 p.m. – Terry Fox Field — Burnaby, British Columbia

2019 Record: 1-12-1, 1-9-0 GNAC, 1-4-0 home, 0-8-1 away, 0-0-0 neutral

2018 Record: 10-6-1, 8-3-1 GNAC, 5-1-0 home, 3-3-1 away, 2-2-0 neutral

Head Coach: Annie Hamel (6th season)

The Clan will attempt to break a seven game losing streak when the Yellowjackets visit Terry Fox Field on Thursday. Last season, SFU bested MSUB twice with 3-0 and 5-0 shutouts in the season series. Defense has been a strong point Simon Fraser, which struggles to score goals. The Clan ranks last in the conference with seven goals in regulation, 0.50 goals per game.

On offense, Giuliana Zaurrini leads the way with four goals and eight points. Kiara Buono has 12 games played with two goals and two assists for six points. Jenieva Musico has occasionally found the scoresheet with one goal, two assists, and four points for SFU.

Goalkeeper Nicole Anderson has been a regular starter at the position and has 86 saves this season and a 1-11-1 record.

“Simon is a very technical and skilled team,” Cavallo said. “We know they have some players that we need to focus on. The pace of play on Terry Fox Field is fast so we need to make sure our touches are on-point. We’ve done all we can to prepare for Simon Fraser but at the end of the day we know we have to roll up our sleeves and get it done.”

Scouting Saint Martin’s University

Saturday, November 9, 1 p.m. – Saints Field— Lacey, Washington

2019 Record: 4-12-2, 2-8-0 GNAC, 3-5-0 home, 1-6-1 away, 0-0-1 neutral

2018 Record: 5-12-1, 1-10-1 GNAC, 2-7-1 home, 2-5-0 away, 1-0-0 neutral

Head Coach: Heather Cato (3rd season)

The Saints have played well recently, with a pair of victories over their last four games. Most recently, the Saints shut out Simon Fraser 2-0 in Lacey. Melissa Alvarado scored twice for SMU, both goals came within the first 15 minutes of the contest. Shea McKnight leads the team with seven points (two goals, three assists) while Maddie Wolff and Jessica Moskowitz each have five points to their credit.

Three goalkeepers have split time in net for MSUB. The most frequent starter, Ali Compigotto holds a 1-6-2 record with a .756 save percentage and a 2.35 goals against average. Sophie Mendoza has seven games played while Sara Christensen has seen action in four. The Saints are alone in eighth place, three points ahead of Simon Fraser in the GNAC table.

“We are looking forward to playing against Saint Martin’s again Saturday,” said Cavallo. “It’s their senior day so we know they are going to be pumped. We aren’t going to play another GNAC game until September 2020, so ending the season on a positive note is really important to us. Saint Martin’s is never an easy place to go and win but we are looking forward to the challenge.”