(Editor’s note: MSU Billings media release)
BILLINGS – Patiently tucking home her third goal of the 2018 season in the 76th minute, Montana State University Billings women’s soccer freshman Julia Keller lifted her team to a 2-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference win over Northwest Nazarene University on Thursday at Yellowjacket Field.
The Yellowjackets overcame a 1-0 deficit, as they conceded the lead 62 minutes into the match but found a way to earn a comeback win. Both of MSUB’s goals came within three minutes of one another, as the ‘Jackets benefitted from an own-goal by NNU to equalize before Keller’s game-winning finish.
“It’s a pretty good win today, because our motivation was high and you could see that the whole game,” said Keller. “I knew we were ready today, and I just felt it. It’s awesome to get our first win in GNAC.”
The Yellowjackets broke out of a three-game losing skid and earned their first conference victory of the season, as they move to 4-4-1 overall and 1-3 in league play. For the Nighthawks Thursday marked the third straight loss, as they are now 5-3-1 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
“The first three matches of GNAC we went through a lot as a team, and today is all about the character of the group,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “I am so proud of them. After going down 1-0 the way we did, to come back the way we did shows a lot about the fight, grit, and heart that we have.”
Keller’s third goal of the season developed in the 76th minute in the middle of the field with a forward pass from Haylee Gunter to Claire Tevaseu. The junior played an instinctive, one-time left-footed heel flick into the box, setting up Keller on the face of the goal. Using her strength to fight off a pair of defenders, Keller calmly planted a left-footed strike into the lower-left corner of the net.
The finish came after the Nighthawks got caught trying to clear the ball out of their box and played it into their own net in the 74th minute.
The Yellowjacket defense held tough through the final 15 minutes, with center backs Amanda Hemmen and Kalin Sandow making crucial clearances of the ball from within their own box. Perhaps the biggest defensive play of the day came in the 88th minute, when goalkeeper Erinn Harder denied NNU’s Maddy Parton from point-blank range after a corner kick.
Junior Courteney Shovlin joined Hemmen and Sandow in playing a full 90 minutes, and was another critical player both defensively on the outside and in pushing the attack forward.
“Going into this game we knew we needed to get a win, and we know that NNU is always a tough opponent,” Shovlin said. “We always try not to drop our heads, and we knew we could get back in it. We had plenty of time to come back, and in the second half when we came out strong that really lifted our spirits.”
After a lackluster opening 45 minutes, MSUB came out of the halftime break with newfound momentum and created its first threatening scoring chances of the day. Gunter worked a pass into the box from the right side after a corner kick, and Cassidy O’Dell nearly made it 1-0 as her shot from close range nicked off the crossbar.
Despite constant pressure in the attacking third in the start of the period, the ‘Jackets found themselves staring a 1-0 deficit in the face after a giveaway in the defensive third led to an easy finish for Parton.
The ‘Jackets had a big chance to equalize with 20 minutes left, but a header shot by Tevaseu after a pass from O’Dell was nodded high. O’Dell’s persistence paid off, as it was her cross into the box four minutes later that got misdirected into NNU’s net for the own goal to get MSUB’s scoring started.
Hemmen had a big stop with 12 minutes to go, reaching out to clear a dangerous cross through the box by Parton. Overall the ‘Jackets won despite being out-shot 11-5 in the match, and each team managed to place two attempts on frame. NNU kept the pressure on with five second-half corner kicks, while the ‘Jackets had three.
THE BUZZ: Shovlin was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 18-7-2 all-time against NNU and is 11-1 in matches played in Billings…the game-winner was the first of Keller’s career…the assist was Tevaseu’s third of the season.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets remain in Billings to host Saint Martin’s University and Seattle Pacific University next week. Thursday’s game against the Saints will kick off at 4 p.m. and will be the second game in a doubleheader with the Yellowjacket men’s soccer team. On Saturday, kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. as the women open a doubleheader with the men’s team. Live video and live statistics will be available for both games online.
Meantime on the men’s field, a well-played match came to a heartbreaking finish for MSUB as visiting Seattle Pacific University netted a goal with 40 seconds left to claim a 3-2 conference win.
All five goals in the match came during an eventful second period, with three lead changes over the final 45 minutes. Chris Cole netted the late game-winner, scoring his first goal of the year on a cross from Jason Schmidt that he redirected into the far corner of the net.
The Yellowjackets slipped to 4-5-1 with the loss, and are now 1-2 in conference play. The Falcons picked up their first GNAC win of the season, and move to 4-5 overall and 1-2 in GNAC action.
“This loss is very disappointing for our team, because we played well and deserved much more,” commented MSUB head coach Alex Balog on a game his side led 2-1 with as little as 21 minutes left. “Credit to SPU for battling, grinding, and finding a way to get the result. Unfortunately, certain elements made it a steep, uphill battle for us from the get-go to be successful today.”
Less than one minute into the second half, the ‘Jackets found themselves trailing after a ball into the box by SPU was misdirected into the net for an own goal.
MSUB responded less than three minutes later, with two goals that were scored within 30 seconds of one another.
Senior Guillaume Kremer stepped to a 20-yard free kick on the left side of the field, and bent a signature shot into the far-upper corner of the net to even the score at 1-1.
MSUB immediately gained possession after the ensuing kickoff, and struck again to take the lead. After Luca Battistotti embarked on a long run down the right flank, the outside back rolled a cross through the goal box where senior Dana Kowachek moved forward against his defender. His one-time effort was well-placed into the lower-right corner, as his fourth goal of the year made it a 2-1 ballgame.
The Falcons clawed their way back into the game however, and earned a penalty kick in the 70th minute after a foul inside the goal box. Titus Grant, who led all players with four shots in the match, stepped to the spot and buried his third goal of the year to once again even the score.
While the game appeared to be destined for an extra-time finish, the Falcons got the final say as they won the ball in the midfield and pressed forward with less than a minute left. Schmidt’s cross made its way through to Cole inside a crowded goal box, and the senior’s first-career goal spelled the end for MSUB in shocking fashion.
Sophomore Shantik Bedrosian played his second consecutive 90-minute match, and was one of the Yellowjackets’ most creative players on the ball from start to finish. Bedrosian had a decent look towards goal from a tight angle in the 20th minute, but his powerful, on-target shot was gobbled up by SPU goalkeeper Lars Helleren.
SPU’s shot stopper finished with six saves in the match, as MSUB placed eight of its 13 attempts on frame. The Yellowjackets had a decided 6-1 advantage in corner kicks, but could not convert on the opportunities.
Defensively, the back four of Samuele Folla, Liam Knox, Pascal Pisarek, and Battistotti each played a full 90 minutes. Senior Adam Hepburn was another key performer for the Yellowjackets, helping his team keep possession and develop the ball out of the midfield.
“I’m glad that regardless of what was thrown at us we stayed true to who we are and kept playing and building from the back,” Balog said. “We need to learn to see games out in a more mature way, and be much more clinical in our defending especially during money time. We will take this one on the chin, regroup, and get after it again on Saturday.”
THE BUZZ: Bedrosian was named the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Day…MSUB is now 5-18-5 all-time against SPU and is 3-5-2 in matches played in Billings…the goal was Kowachek’s fourth of the season, the most on the squad…Kremer’s goal was his second of the year and the 12th of his three-year career at MSUB.
NEXT UP: MSUB returns to the pitch Saturday, to face Northwest Nazarene University in another GNAC affair. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and live video and live statistics will be available onlinE.