(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Adding to his team-leading goal total with two finishes on Saturday, Montana State University Billings senior Dana Kowachek lifted his team to a 2-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference men’s soccer victory over visiting Concordia University at Yellowjacket Field.
The Yellowjackets dominated the match from start to finish, ending with a 28-10 advantage in shots and placing 12 of their attempts on target. MSUB improved to 5-6-2 overall and 2-4 in GNAC play, completing the weekend with four points after Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Western Washington. “We were very balanced in playing long and playing short, and the guys deserve a lot of credit because they executed the game plan very well,” said MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “We knew we had to come out strong and sharp, and we are very happy with how we started the game today.”
CU moves to 3-6-1 overall and 1-4 in conference play with the defeat, and the team’s losing skid reached four matches during which it has been out-scored 8-1.
The Cavaliers earned a dangerous opportunity just four minutes into the match, winning a free kick 20 yards from the goal. Christian Thyron fired the first shot of the day, but the Yellowjackets’ wall did its job to knock the attempt away.
Andres Perez rattled the woodwork with a shot from five yards away in the seventh minute, and the ‘Cavs survived an ensuing loose ball inside the box by clearing it just before Ricardo Palomino could get a clean shot away. Kowachek drilled a shot off the other goal post less than a minute later, as the Yellowjackets continued their torrid offensive pace in the opening 10 minute of play. “We moved the ball really well in the first half, and it was exciting to have that movement today,” Kowachek said. “Shout-out to Andres and Guillaume, who had really good deliveries to me. I just instinctively put them away.”
It didn’t take long for MSUB to find the back of the net, as Guillaume Marneau pivoted in tight quarters and fed a perfectly-weighted pass from the midfield into the goal box. Kowachek timed his run well and it took one touch to direct his first goal of the day into the lower corner of the net. “Dana looked me right in the eye and I saw his hips turn right away, so I knew I had that chance to slip him in,” Marneau commented on the goal-scoring play. “He had a good first touch and a good finish, so kudos to him. You know as soon as it comes off your foot that it’s going to go through, and it’s a beautiful moment with the team to score a goal like that.”
Guillaume Kremer came close to scoring with 10 minutes left in the first, but his half-volley shot on a pass from Bryan Maxwell curled wide of the far post. The ‘Jackets led just 1-0 at the halftime break, despite a decisive 17-3 advantage in shots.
Nine minutes into the second, CU’s Reggie Reyes had his team’s best chance to score, as he rifled a shot from within the box off the crossbar.
CU goalkeeper Grant Alcorn came through with an excellent save a minute later, getting in front of a shot by Kowachek from eight yards out.
The senior struck again in the 60th minute however, on a play that originated on the back line with a long run up the center of the field by Callan Martin. The sophomore fed a pass out wide to Perez, who whipped in a cross from the right for Kowachek to flick inside the far post. “I am very happy for Dana with the performance he had today, and for him to get on the score sheet twice today says a lot about what type of player he is,” Balog commented. “The effort Dana put in today exemplified how hungry this team still is to make something out of this season.”
Alcorn kept his team in the match with 23 minutes to go, laying out for a diving denial of a powerful strike by Perez that was headed for the top corner.
Palomino and Kremer nearly connected for a third goal in the waning minutes, but Alcorn was able to disrupt their connection just enough to prevent a shot from inside the box.
CU’s keeper made 10 saves in the match, but his side didn’t pose a threat offensively over the final 45 minutes of play.
Yellowjacket goalkeeper Ludvig Rhodin collected his second shutout of the season, making both saves required of him in the second half. Maxwell, Martin, Luca Battistotti, Samuele Folla were crucial in 90-minute efforts on the back line in front of Rhodin.
The shutout was the third overall on the year for MSUB, and its first since beginning conference play.
THE BUZZ: Kowachek was picked as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…MSUB is now 4-1-2 all-time against Concordia and holds a perfect 4-0 record at home…Kowachek now has seven goals in his career, six of which have come this season…the assist was the first of Perez’s career and it was Marneau’s third.
COMING UP: The ‘Jackets have just one game next week, with another conference affair at home on October 11. MSUB will host Saint Martin’s University with a 3 p.m. kickoff.