(MSUB Athletics release)
GREAT FALLS – Staring a 3-0 deficit in the face just seven minutes into the match on Tuesday at Argo Field, the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team responded in record-breaking fashion in an improbable 4-3 win over the University of Providence.
The Yellowjackets (3-1-1) set a school record for largest deficit overcome to win a game, and tied the Great Northwest Athletic Conference record with a feat that has been achieved just one other time in the 18-year history of the conference. UP’s Eme McLaughlin scored 51 seconds into the game and an MSUB own goal made it 2-0 in the third minute. Before MSUB could catch its breath, Alexis Cavalier scored in the seventh minute as the Yellowjackets looked at the scoreboard in complete disbelief.
“It was an absolute nightmare to start the game conceding in the first 50 seconds and being down 3-0 after seven minutes,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “I am most proud that the players remained a cohesive unit, didn’t turn to individual play, didn’t panic, and at 3-0 down slowly started to work their way back into the match. It is not good to start a game like that, but credit must be given to the way we responded to each other.”
A goal just two minutes after falling behind 3-0 helped get the comeback started, as freshman Cassidy O’Dell notched her first collegiate finish in the eighth minute on a pass from Julia Keller. The duo connected again in the 17th minute, as O’Dell returned the favor with a cross to Keller to pull the score line to 3-2.
MSUB goalkeeper Erinn Harder made her first save of the day in the 22nd minute, keeping the deficit at a single goal by stopping another shot by McLaughlin. Harder had one more stop just before halftime, denying Sydney Knieriem in the 43rd minute as the ‘Jackets made it to the break with hope.
After winning a free kick, MSUB benefitted from a hand ball by UP on a cross into the box and was awarded a penalty kick. Junior Claire Tevaseu stepped up to the spot and buried her second goal in as many games to make it a 3-3 score in the 54th minute.
The Yellowjackets made it through a wild sequence in the 65th minute, as a pair of UP shots were knocked away near the goal line and the game stayed tied. It wound up being the last real scoring chance for Providence, but the ‘Jackets had one final push in them as Tevaseu again led the charge.
With just over 15 minutes left to play, Tevaseu found freshman Lexie Bloyder with a pass to the corner of the 18-yard box. Bloyder let a long shot fly, and tallied her first collegiate goal in what stood up as the game-winner.
The ‘Jackets out-shot the Argos 19-12 in the match, and won despite not earning a single corner kick in the game. Junior Erin Reynolds made a significant impact in the match, coming off the bench and turning in 62 quality minutes among the defensive unit. Sophomore Hallie Vervair was also a key player, as she put pressure on with a pair of shots including one on goal in 39 strong minutes as a substitute.
“Once we started to connect passes we started to create chances,” Cavallo said. “We had three players register a goal and an assist today, which is an awesome achievement. It was another total team effort with Erin and Hallie providing a huge spark from the bench. Also, it was awesome to see Lexie come in and get the game-winning goal.”
Providence fell to 2-2 on the year with the loss, and McLaughlin led all players with five shots and four on target while playing all 90 minutes.
A PIECE OF GNAC HISTORY
The only other time a GNAC team overcame a three-goal deficit to win took place in the inaugural year of the conference, on Oct. 1, 2001 in a game between Northwest Nazarene University and Western Oregon University. The Wolves led 3-0 at halftime, before NNU proceeded to score three unanswered goals in the second half and a game-winner in overtime to win 4-3.
There have since been two occurrences of a GNAC team trailing by three goals and either tying or taking the lead, but both matches wound up in a loss for the conference team. On Aug. 29, 2005, California Collegiate Athletic Association school Cal State Dominguez Hills jumped on GNAC school Western Washington University and led 3-0 after just 6:20 of action. WWU went on to score the next five goals to take a 5-3 lead by the 59th minute, but CSUDH incredibly scored three more goals in the final 11 minutes to win one of the wildest games in GNAC history 6-5.
On Sept. 11, 2015, CCAA school Stanislaus State University took a 3-0 lead over GNAC school Saint Martin’s University early in the second half. The Saints managed to score three straight and even the score, but SSU prevailed with a golden goal to win 4-3.
THE BUZZ: Tevaseu was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…it was her second career goal and second career assist…the three points were her most-ever in a single game…Keller’s goal was her second of the year, after she scored in her first collegiate match…the assist was the first of Keller’s career…MSUB is now 1-0 all-time against Providence.
NEXT UP: Conference play begins on Saturday, as the Yellowjackets host Central Washington University. Kickoff is at noon at Yellowjacket Field, and live video and live statistics will be available online.