(Editor's note: MSUB Athletics release)
BILLINGS – Halil Yilmaz moved into a tie for most goals in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference on Thursday at Yellowjacket Field, scoring twice in the Montana State University Billings men’s soccer team’s 3-0 blanking of visiting Saint Martin’s University.
The junior striker put MSUB ahead in the sixth minute of play before adding a brace in the 73rd minute and watching senior Paul Cuevas cap the match with a score in the 90th minute. Center backs Luca Battistotti and Bryan Maxwell and outside back Pascal Pisarek each played the full 90 minutes to anchor the team’s second clean sheet of the year, and Georgios Theodoulidis made four saves to pick up his second collegiate shutout. “The result last week was definitely in our minds, and we wanted to show how we can come out and play,” said senior Brady Tesch, referring to last Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss at No. 16 Seattle Pacific. “Keeping a clean sheet was very important for us mentally, and we are just looking forward to playing our game going forward.”
MSUB upped its record to 3-4-1 overall on the season and pulled even in early GNAC play at 1-1. SMU meanwhile slipped to 1-9 overall and started its GNAC campaign with an 0-2 record. “They were definitely looking to exploit the space behind us, and once they were forced to play long we were able to defend that 1-v-1,” said Tesch, who contributed perhaps the best individual performance of his collegiate career on Thursday. “The satisfaction is there, and we really appreciate the effort from everybody on the team. It goes a long way, but again we are focusing on the next match because Saturday is coming up quick.”
Tesch provided the assist on Yilmaz’s game-winning goal, and played a key part of the back line’s shutout effort with 74 strong minutes in his first start of the year. “He had a very good game,” MSUB head coach Thomas Chameraud commented on Tesch’s play Thursday. “He was very good defensively, and offensively, and he created danger for us in the last 30 yards. I was very happy for him.”
After receiving the ball from the back on the right side of the pitch, Tesch’s vision led him to a long through ball over the top of the SMU defense and onto the foot of Yilmaz. The striker tucked a neat finish inside the near post with his right foot past an oncoming Hunter Askland out of the SMU goal. “I was just keeping my head up, and I saw that he was running through,” Tesch commented on Yilmaz’s first finish. “I trusted him, he’s a great goal scorer, and I just put my faith in him. He did the rest.”
The Yellowjackets dominated the run of play in the opening 45 minutes, out-shooting the Saints 10-2, but the hosts carried just a narrow lead into the halftime break. “Up 1-0 at halftime is never really a good score, so we really needed to pay attention in the second half,” Chameraud said. “They put us on our heels a little bit, but our defense and Georgios held tight in the back. Overall it was good to get a clean sheet to get our first three points, but there is still work to do for sure.”
Theodoulidis had his first of four saves three minutes into the second half, as SMU kicked off its most productive 20-minute stretch of the game and threatened to pull even coming out of the break. Battistotti and Maxwell helped the ‘Jackets get through the trying stretch of play, which saw the Saints take five of their 10 shots in the match.
Yilmaz’s second finish came in the 73rd minute, when the Saints were dispossessed in their defensive third as Mathias Kjølner intervened and sent the ball over the top and into the box. From there, Yilmaz perfectly placed a shot with the outside of his left foot into the upper part of the net past the reach of Askland. “Ibo is a very dangerous striker, and when he gets the ball around him in the box there is a high chance it is going to be in the back of the net,” Chameraud said. “We have to reward the defenders on our team as well, because during practice they make it difficult for him and try to make it as game-realistic as they can. He is a hard worker, and it paid off today.”
The Saints didn’t have any serious threats to equalize over the final 18 minutes of play, and with time running out Cuevas struck for his third goal of the year. The play was created by Jayse Judkins in the midfield, as he earned his first collegiate assist with a through ball into the box for Cuevas to run onto and punch into the lower-left corner of the net.
The Yellowjackets had season-highs of 21 shots and nine shots on goal in the match, with Yilmaz leading the way at seven shots and four on target. Askland helped keep the Saints in it with six key saves, but SMU managed just four shots on frame throughout the 90 minutes.
The ‘Jackets are back on the pitch Saturday, with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff against Northwest Nazarene University which plays at Seattle Pacific on Thursday night. Live video for Saturday’s game will be available online here [youtube.com] and live statistics will be available online here [msubsports.com].
Meantime, keeping its unbeaten streak alive on Thursday afternoon at Yellowjacket Field, No. 6 Western Washington University cruised to a 4-0 Great Northwest Athletic Conference win over MSUB's women.
The Vikings (8-0-2, 5-0 GNAC) scored twice in each half and produced their sixth shutout of the season with the lopsided result. The Yellowjackets slipped to 4-4-2 overall and are now 1-3-1 in conference play after the defeat. “This is a really frustrating game for us, because we did not show up with the defensive intensity we knew we needed when playing a team like Western Washington,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “Our first half lacked fight and grit, and we made the game too easy for them.”
Four different Vikings found the back of the net on Thursday, while Darby Doyle had a goal and an assist to lead the way. Doyle put the Vikings ahead 10 minutes into the match, while Ellie Busik added her second of the season in the 36th minute to help the Vikings to a 2-0 halftime lead. Dayana Diaz and Jayden Nguyen put the game away with a pair of goals in the final six minutes of action, as the Vikings capitalized twice at the end of the match.
WWU out-shot MSUB 21-10 in the match, and placed nine strikes on target compared to three on-frame looks by the Yellowjackets. Busik led the team with five shot attempts in 49 minutes off the bench, and she, Ashley Nguyen, and Diaz each put a pair of strikes on frame.
Doyle’s goal came on a drop pass from Ashley Nguyen, who maintained control of the ball inside the box despite being closely marked by MSUB’s Sydney Wate in the 10th minute. Doyle took a touch at the top of the box, before firing a strike into the back of the net.
Liberty Palmer had MSUB’s first shot midway through the opening half, fighting for a strike inside the box that led to a Yellowjacket corner kick. Haylee Gunter followed with an on-target header attempt, but Dierickx smothered it to keep the score at 1-0.
Doyle returned the favor 10 minutes before halftime, playing a cross to Busik who curled a left-footed strike into the upper corner of the net to make the score 2-0.
The Yellowjackets’ best stretch of play came at the outset of the second half, as the team garnered more possession and displayed will to fight back in the contest. MSUB’s most promising scoring chance came in the 62nd minute, when Jordan Roe punched a promising strike towards the lower-right corner of the net. All-American goalkeeper Natalie Dierickx used every inch of her frame to fully extend and knock away the shot with a diving stop to keep the shutout intact. Dierickx had two saves in the match, while Claire Henninger made the only save required of her as she played the final 27 minutes in goal.
“We showed up in the second half and created some real chances,” Cavallo said. “Their keeper made a fantastic save to keep Jordan Roe from scoring. We showed in the second half that when we play with intensity we can be a dangerous team. We just weren’t consistent, and when you only play well for 35 minutes against WWU you are guaranteed to lose.”
WWU put the game away in the closing minutes, when Allison Lepp found Diaz inside the goal box and watched the veteran striker calmly tuck her second goal of the year into the net from within the box. The final strike followed two minutes later on a corner kick, when a service from Karina Provo was headed by Sophie Butterfield and eventually tapped in by Jayden Nguyen from inside the goal box.
Clare Keenan made five saves throughout the match, as she and the back line were kept on their toes throughout. Hailee Gertsch led the way defensively with 81 minutes played, while Palmer led the Yellowjackets with four shot attempts.
The Yellowjackets host Simon Fraser University on Saturday with an 11 a.m. kickoff on MSUB Kicks Cancer day.