(MSU Billings release)
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – A goal apiece from Alexa Iacolucci and Amanda Grimshaw, and a clean sheet from Lili Delgadillo and the back line, lifted the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team to a 2-0 shutout of Wayne State College on Saturday at Trailblazer Stadium.
Iacolucci, the team’s leading scorer in 2017 with five goals, got her name on the 2018 sheet with a dazzling 30-yard free-kick goal in the opening half. Grimshaw followed with an equally impressive finish in the run of play, blasting a right-footed shot into the upper-v from outside the box late in the second period.
The two finishes were enough to hold up as the winning score, and the ‘Jackets were remarkably efficient with 10 of 11 shots landing on target. “It was a true team effort that saw us grind out an important 2-0 victory on the road,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “Everyone on the team played an important part in our first win and shutout of the season.”
MSUB moves to 1-0-1 on the year, after earning a 1-1 double-overtime draw against Colorado Christian University on Thursday. Wayne State College fell to 0-1 as Saturday was its first game of the 2018 season.
Cassidy O’Dell had a decent look in the opening three minutes, firing a shot from the left wing that was handled by Wayne State goalkeeper Rachel Grisham. It was the first of eight saves made by the Wildcats’ shot stopper, as she did her best to keep her team in the match.
The ‘Jackets nearly pulled ahead in the 11th minute, but Julia Keller’s shot was saved by Grisham after a stellar through ball from O’Dell. Keller was again on target in the 23rd minute, this time shooting from range and watching as Grisham denied her with a diving stop. The freshman from Munich, Germany, led all players with five shots including four on frame while playing 66 minutes.
Fresh into the game, Haylee Gunter drew a foul on the right side of the field in a dangerous position. Iacolucci stepped up to the mark, and curled a perfect left-footed shot over the wall and into the lower-left corner of the net in the 25th minute.
The ‘Jackets owed their 1-0 halftime margin to a stellar save by Delgadillo, who dove to her right to knock away an attempt by Madison Kemp from point-blank range. Delgadillo wound up with four stops in the match, helping keep the clean sheet in her first appearance of her senior season.
Jordan Devoto got in on a loose ball in the box at the 60-minute mark, but Grisham was able to recover in the nick of time and block the uncontested look towards goal.
Grimshaw’s finish followed in the 81st minute, as she received a pass from Claire Tevaseu and did the rest. Building off the confidence of her assist to Keller on Thursday’s game-tying goal, the sophomore doubled the Yellowjackets’ lead and erased any doubt of a victory.
Keller came inches away from making it 3-0 in the closing minutes, as her attempt from the top of the box glanced off the post.
Kemp led the Wildcats with a pair of shots coming off the bench in the game, and six other players each had one attempt in the match.
Center backs Kalin Sandow and Amanda Hemmen each played 81 of 90 minutes, and Courteney Shovlin, Theodora Hjaltadottir, Josie Corbin, and Erin Reynolds also contributed to the shutout defensively. Hallie Vervair also ate up 62 minutes in the midfield in her second straight start.
THE BUZZ: Iacolucci was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…it was Iacolucci’s sixth career goal…Grimshaw notched her third career goal…the shutout was the first for MSUB since a 0-0 draw against Western Oregon on Oct. 12, 2017…it was Delgadillo’s third career shutout…the 10 shots on goal were the most for MSUB since Sept. 23, 2017 at Western Oregon…it was the first time since at least 2001 that the ‘Jackets managed double figures in shots on goal while missing the target just once (SOG data not available before 2002 season)…the assist and point were the first of Tevaseu’s career.
AHEAD: The ‘Jackets return to Billings for the 2018 home opener, coming up next weekend with the fifth annual Rimrock Classic in memory of Trevor Wildberger. MSUB faces the University of Nebraska Kearney on Thursday at 4 p.m., and then takes on Black Hills State University on Saturday at 3 p.m.