(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – A buzzer-beating 30-yard goal by Julia Keller, that sneaked under the crossbar as the first-half ended Monday at Yellowjacket Field, highlighted another strong performance by the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team as it topped visiting Carroll College 3-1.
As the 10-second countdown began, Keller found herself with the ball at her feet 10 yards into her own half. After cleverly nut-megging her defender, the German freshman uncorked a high, curling shot in the nick of time that squeaked between the crossbar and Saints goalkeeper Devan Murfitt.
The split-second finish was the difference between a scoreless opening half and a 1-0 lead for MSUB, which received two second-half goals from freshman Cassidy O’Dell to seal the exhibition win.
“I saw there were just 10 seconds left, and I was just trying to get the ball to go in,” said Keller on the goal.
The ‘Jackets remain 0-0 after the exhibition match, but made it two straight wins after they topped Rocky in decisive 5-1 fashion on Friday. The Saints fell to 0-1 as the match counted as their opening contest of the year. Carroll’s only goal was an own goal by MSUB, after a free kick was deflected into the back of the net.
Aside from the giveaway in the 85th minute, the match was one-sided as the ‘Jackets out-shot the Saints 18-2 and placed 11 attempts on target. Keller and Alexa Iacolucci tied for the team high with five shots apiece, and senior Jordan Devoto assisted on O’Dell’s first goal of the game.
“This was a great game and Carroll provided us with tough opposition,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “It is a game that will definitely prepare us for GNAC play, just with how quick the pace was.”
The ‘Jackets avoided disaster just seven minutes into the match, when goalkeeper Lili Delgadillo contained a wide-open attacker with a sliding stop after a heavy touch. “We were a little frantic to start, but we adjusted quickly to the high pressure they put us under,” said Cavallo. “Once we were able to keep the ball a little more, we were certainly able to make them start to chase.”
MSUB nearly broke through five minutes later, after winning the first corner of the match. Iacolucci drilled a low second ball into the box after her initial service was saved, and a close-range attempt by Claire Tevaseu was gobbled up by Carroll keeper Devan Murfitt.
It was one of eight saves on the day required of Murfitt, six of which came in the opening 45 minutes.
Seizing the momentum provided by Keller’s stunning goal, the ‘Jackets wasted no time capitalizing again at the start of the second half. Just three minutes into the action, Devoto worked the ball into the right corner and whipped a cross through the box. After deflecting off Murfitt’s mitts, O’Dell was there to scoop it up and punch a low shot into the back of the net.
Delgadillo helped keep the score line at 2-0 in the 68th minute, laying out to make a diving save on a tough shot by the Saints’ Lizzie Sheldon.
The Yellowjackets’ third goal came about a minute later, and consisted of a strong buildup out of the back. Playing up the left flank, defender Courteney Shovlin connected with Amanda Hemmen and Iacolucci to work the ball into a dangerous position in the center of the pitch. Keller shielded her defender with her back to the goal, and played a slight, instinctive flick on a pass from Iacolucci to set O’Dell up into the box.
From there, the freshman blasted a high right-footed shot under the crossbar to make the score 3-0.
THE BUZZ: Keller was tabbed the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…it was the second straight game with a goal for both Keller and O’Dell, who each found the net in Friday’s win over Rocky…the Yellowjackets have started their exhibition schedule with eight goals in two games…MSUB avenged a tough 3-0 loss to Carroll College suffered on Sept. 14, 2017 in Helena.
AHEAD: The preseason concludes on Sunday, with MSUB hosting Yakima Valley Community College in a final exhibition match at Yellowjacket Field. Kickoff is set for noon, with live video and live statistics available online through MSUB’s Stretch Internet portal here. The Yellowjacket men will play immediately following the women, with a scrimmage against Northwest College.