(MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Two goals in two minutes by Ciera Clark propelled visiting University of Nebraska Kearney to a 2-1 victory over the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team in the 2018 home opener at the Rimrock Classic in memory of Trevor Wildberger Thursday at Yellowjacket Field.
MSUB took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but the Lopers (1-2) earned their first win of the year in comeback fashion with the goals in rapid succession. “Obviously we are disappointed with the result today, but this is a great teachable moment for the team,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “Credit to UNK who really forced errors from us and deserved the result. We are looking forward to the match on Saturday, which will test the resolve of the team and see how we bounce back from our first disappointment in the result column this season.”
The defeat was the first of the year for MSUB, which moved to an even 1-1-1 record. Junior Amanda Hemmen scored her second career goal, but it wasn’t enough to help the ‘Jackets avenge a similar 2-1 loss to the Lopers last season on the road.
Though the opening half was even with five shots apiece, UNK pulled away with a 16-7 margin over the final 45 minutes as they kept constant pressure on the Yellowjackets’ back line.
Clark’s first goal came in the 60th minute, when a defensive miscue created a scoring chance for her with an open net. A failed clearance and a ball that lingered too long in the box wound up in the back of the net immediately afterwards, as Clark put home a pass by Kassidy Kirsch for what proved to be the game-winner.
The Lopers took advantage of a strong tailwind right from the opening whistle of the game, winning a pair of corner kicks in the opening five minutes of play. While UNK couldn’t capitalize, the Yellowjackets did on their ensuing turn from the corner. An excellent through ball from Kalin Sandow to Theodora Hjaltadottir won the set piece for the home team, and Hemmen was there to touch home the cross from Alexa Iacolucci within a crowded box.
Jordan Devoto had a prime scoring chance with 20 minutes to go in the first, after a perfectly placed pass from Haylee Gunter in the midfield led her into the box. Loper goalkeeper Allie Prososki came off her line and handled the shot however, keeping the score at 1-0. Prososki made five saves on the day, earning her first win of the season.
Getting the job done in her own goal box just before halftime, Hemmen rose up to head away a corner-kick cross before stepping forward to block a subsequent shot.
MSUB had a strong chance to double its lead immediately after halftime, with Amanda Grimshaw threading a pass behind the defense and through to Julia Keller. Prososki again came up with a save however, and two minutes later the Lopers had their best scoring chance of the game to that point.
Again coming on a corner kick, UNK managed three shots inside a frantic goal box before Clark’s attempt missed wide of the post and out for a goal kick. It was a hint of what was to come however, as UNK continued to generate scoring chances and took advantage when the ball fell into its hands.
MSUB pressed forward in desperate search of a late equalizer, but couldn’t take advantage of a pair of corner kicks in the final 10 minutes. Sandow led the ‘Jackets with 86 minutes played, while Hemmen saw the pitch for 84.
THE BUZZ: Hemmen was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…Hemmen’s other goal came on Sept. 23, 2017 at Western Oregon…it is the second time Iacolucci and Hemmen have connected, as Hemmen’s first goal came on a free-kick service from Iacolucci last season…the assist was the fifth of Iacolucci’s career…MSUB is now 0-2 all-time against Nebraska Kearney.
AHEAD: The 2018 Rimrock Classic continues on Saturday, with the Yellowjackets taking on Black Hills State University at 3 p.m. BHSU suffered a 5-3 defeat against the University of Mary in the first game on Thursday, and is now 0-4 on the season. Nebraska Kearney will face Mary on Saturday in the opening match of the day, kicking off at noon. Live video and live statistics will be available for Saturday’s games online.