(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS - Two second half goals by Alexa Iacolucci and Kiley Sandow lifted Montana State University Billings over Concordia University 2-1 Saturday afternoon at Yellowjacket Field in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer game. The ‘Jackets fell behind on a 36th minute fast break goal, but made up the difference to win their second straight GNAC game over the defending conference champion Cavaliers.
MSUB began with good ball possession, but Jaida Nyby gave CU a 1-0 advantage in the 35th minute after using space on the right side to beat goalkeeper Erinn Harder low one-one-one. In the 58th minute, Iacolucci tied the game on a penalty kick after a handball was called on the Cavaliers. Iacolucci took a corner kick 12 minutes later and found Freshman Kiley Sandow for a header and winning marker within a jungle of players near the goal line. It was Sandow’s first career goal.
“We started to calm down and become more confident as the game went on,” Iacolucci said after the game. “We also took more shots and inevitably, ended up scoring. In years past, we’ve felt luck hasn’t always been on our side and struggled with adversity, but now dealing with it and coming out with a positive result was really encouraging today.”
MSU Billings (3-2-2, 2-0-0 GNAC) defeated consecutive conference opponents to start the year for the first time since 2015 and has already surpassed their 2018 conference mark of 1-11-0 in the first weekend of GNAC competition. Last season the ‘Jackets fell 4-0 to Concordia University in Portland.
Junior goalkeeper Erinn Harder (Gig Harbor, Washington) had two consecutive clean sheets entering Saturday’s game. Harder made three saves to earn the win, but had her streak of 246 minutes without allowing a goal broken by Nyby of Concordia. Hailey Asato made three saves and allowed two goals to take the loss in goal for CU.
Iacolucci had five of the ‘Jackets 10 shots in the contest with two on goal. Julia Keller came off the bench and contributed three shots with one landing on frame.
MSUB tallied four corner kicks in the first half and one in the second for a total of five. The Cavaliers earned one corner kick in the second half. Yellow cards were issued to CU’s Isabelle Morales in the 22nd minute and Haylee Gunter in the 49th minute.
COMMENTS FROM COACH CAVALLO
How does it feel to start GNAC play with a 2-0 record?
“We’ve talked about the importance of winning our GNAC home games all pre-season. Both wins this week didn’t come easy. We played through some crazy conditions on Thursday and then today, having the togetherness and mental fortitude to keep going even after we allowed a goal in the first half was great. It feels really good to start 2-0 in the GNAC obviously. We want to keep working and tweaking some things so that we can continue to be successful.
After you fell behind in the first half, what was the conversation like at halftime?
“Stay the course, because I thought we played the first half well. I was really proud of the response from our team. We just wanted to fix a couple small things and continue pushing. It was just a matter of time before the goal was going to come. We were playing well and I felt we were earning it out there and eventually we did score.”
Several players played exceptional for your team today including Alexa Iacolucci, Haylee German, and others. How did you feel about some of the individual performances?
“Alexa had a great response after halftime to score on the PK. She stepped up. Haylee German won a lot of 50-50 balls and was good for us. Courtney Shovlin had I think one of the best games I have ever seen her play in a Yellowjacket jersey at left back. It was a total team effort today. Everyone chipped in to get the win.”
You know the rest of the GNAC schedule is going to be challenging, but with the positive energy you have going right now, what is it going to take to find continued success?
“We have to continue taking it day-by-day and building brick-by-brick. Taking advantage of time we have together off the field is important. There is a good spirit about the team and I think that togetherness is really helping us. Every game is tough in this conference so if we can keep going with servant leadership and believing in each other, we have a good chance against anyone.”
THE BUZZ: Iacolucci was named St. Vincent Healthcare player of the game for MSUB…The last time the Yellowjackets won three consecutive regular season games was 2014.
UP NEXT: The Yellowjackets (3-2-2, 2-0-0 GNAC) are on the road next week, taking on Northwest Nazarene Thursday, October 3 at 5 p.m. followed by No. 7 Western Washington Saturday, October 5 at 1 p.m. Concordia University (2-5-0, 0-1-1 GNAC) plays next against Seattle Pacific University October 3.