(MSU Billings release)
BILLINGS – Cayman John’s second goal of the day equalized Thursday’s Great Northwest Atheltic Conference men’s soccer match in the 85th minute, before Sebastian Navarro curled home the game-winner two minutes later to lift visiting Saint Martin’s University to a 3-2 comeback win over Montana State University Billings at Yellowjacket Field.
The Yellowjackets were stunned in the final six minutes of the match, as they watched a 2-1 advantage slip out of their hands. “I am very disappointed today,” said MSUB head coach Alex Balog. “Individually we were poor and managed to shoot ourselves in the foot again. This performance and result means that we need to change our goals for the season. To give the game away the way we did today is very sour.”
MSUB slipped to 5-7-2 overall with the loss, and is now at 2-4-1 in conference play. The Saints meanwhile won their second game in-a-row, and improved to 5-7 overall and 3-3 in GNAC action.
The ‘Jackets were fortunate not to concede a goal in the opening five minutes, as John pushed a wide-open look from inside the box wide of the far post. It was a hint of what was to come however, as it was the first of his game-high seven attempts on the afternoon.
John’s first goal of the day came in the 22nd minute, on a play that was developed by SMU-leading scorer Brandon Madsen on the right side of the field. The striker carried the ball into the box and beat a defender, before rolling a pass across the mouth of the goal. Streaking on from the back post, John redirected the ball into the back of the net with one touch to make the score 1-0.
MSUB nearly countered on the ensuing kickoff, but SMU’s back line got to a cross before Andres Perez could get his head on it from five yards in front of the goal. The Saints’ defensive unit appeared a step ahead of MSUB for the majority of the match, as they drew the ‘Jackets offside six times. It was MSUB’s second-highest offside total of the 2018 season.
MSUB responded less than four minutes later, pressing forward on a corner kick in hopes of finding an equalizer. Guillaume Marneau troubled SMU goalkeeper Griffin Small with a shot on target, that required his only save of the day. Small couldn’t handle the rebound however, as he scooped the ball backwards into his net for an own goal that equalized the score at 1-1.
A set piece helped create MSUB’s second goal of the day, as Guillaume Kremer found Ricardo Palomino with a through ball into the box in the 36th minute. Palomino took a touch to get past his defender, and his ensuing cross found a wide-open Marneau for an easy finish from eight yards away.
The Yellowjackets carried the 2-1 advantage into the halftime break, despite a shot line that read even at six attempts apiece.
MSUB appeared content to settle in defensively for the majority of the second half, as it dealt with SMU’s pressure without issue for the first 38 minutes. Center back Samuele Folla was exceptional in cleaning up the defensive unit for the ‘Jackets, winning multiple headers inside the box and helping his team control possession.
But a wild sequence off an SMU set piece with six minutes left spelled the beginning of the end for MSUB. After Rhodin punched clear a cross into the box, John took a touch and ripped a low shot through a crowd of players and under the hands of MSUB’s keeper to make it a 2-2 game.
Navarro’s game-winner also came on a set piece, as the ‘Jackets gave up a costly free kick deep in the defensive third. The Saints’ second-leading scorer made MSUB pay, as he curled a right-footed shot around the wall and inside the near post from 25 yards away to net his fifth goal of the year and his first game-winner.
Dana Kowachek led MSUB with four shots in the match, but the ‘Jackets failed to generate much traction offensively over the final 45 minutes as they were out-shot 10-2 in the second.
THE BUZZ: Marneau was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…it was the sophomore’s second career goal, after he found the net in the final match of the 2017 season against South Dakota Mines on November 4…MSUB is now 13-8-2 all-time against SMU and is 8-3-1 in home matches.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets begin a four-game road stretch next week, playing at Northwest Nazarene University next Thursday and at Seattle Pacific University next Saturday.