(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Setting the tone for the 2018 season in its first exhibition match on Friday, the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team marched its way to an emphatic 5-1 win over cross-town rival Rocky Mountain College in the Magic City Derby at Yellowjacket Field.
All five of the Yellowjackets’ goals came in the second half, but the home team controlled the run of play from the opening whistle despite a 0-0 score line at the half. The ostentatious offensive outburst featured five different goal scorers as well, including three freshmen contributing in their first-ever collegiate fixture.
Julia Keller delivered the opening strike in the 52nd minute, Billings native Lexie Bloyder impressed her hometown crowd of 400 with a goal in the 67th, and Cassidy O’Dell made the score 4-0 in the 80th to highlight the newcomer scoring. A pair of veterans also got on the score sheet as junior Claire Tevaseu punched in a finish on an assist from O’Dell in the 54th, and Alexa Iacolucci sealed the scoring with a first-time shot tucked into the net from 12 yards out.
“For our group, confidence is such a huge thing, and scoring five goals is going to really help with that,” commented second-year head coach Stephen Cavallo. “We wanted to set the tone in a lot of different ways, and this was a total team effort. Everybody brought something to the match.”
Rocky made the most of a free kick with six minutes left in the game, as Hannah Borgel touched home a loose ball that was rocketed off the crossbar by Amber Pearson. The Bears nearly doubled their tally a minute later, but Alyssa Schneider’s powerful shot from 30 yards away rattled the crossbar.
Despite losing the clean sheet late, ‘Jacket goalkeeper Erinn Harder came away with a pair of saves in the match including a stunning diving stop on a strike by Mhari Smith that was headed for the upper-v 60 minutes into the match.
Both teams remain at 0-0 on the year, as Friday’s affair was a non-counting exhibition contest.
The ‘Jackets held an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks on the match, including three in the opening 45 minutes which led to a 6-1 advantage in shots.
Keller hinted early in the match that she was headed for a goal, as she came near the target with a long attempt from 30 yards 10 minutes before the break. It only took her six minutes into the second to find the net, as she persisted through an initially-blocked shot and pushed home her second effort to give the ‘Jackets the lead.
O’Dell and fellow freshman Emily Gaines were the architects of MSUB’s second strike, as the duo played off one another to feed a low cross towards the far post from the left side of the box. Tevaseu read the play well and was there to tap in a shot from within the six-yard box.
Bloyder put the game out of reach 12 minutes later, as she pounced on a shot by Erin Reynolds that was deflected by a defender and weaved it past the back line from inside the box. “I have grown up watching this game every fall and spring, and it was just great to come out and play in this game,” Bloyder said. “(The goal) was kind of a blur, I was just focused and put it in the corner of the net.”
With time winding down, a heads up play by O’Dell led to the fourth goal as she intercepted an errant goal kick and dribbled into the box. Keeping her composure with the RMC goalie charging off her line, O’Dell managed to touch the ball into the back of the net.
Iacolucci finished the game off less than two minutes later, after some fancy footwork by Jordan Devoto inside the box freed up space for a cross. The lefty’s touch was on point, as her first strike beat the keeper into the lower right corner of the net.
Overall MSUB out-shot Rocky 18-5 in the game, placing nine attempts on target. Rachel Lythgoe contributed 80 strong minutes off the bench on the back line, matching Tevaseu for the team high among field players.
THE BUZZ: O’Dell was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…Theodora Hjaltadottir, Haylee Gunter, Lindsey Meyer, and Josie Corbin each also made their collegiate debut in the match.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets host Carroll College in another exhibition match on Monday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.