It's one thing to be a perennial contender and quite another to repeat past performances, especially those that end with a national championship in view. One year after playing for the NAIA national title, the Mustangs found out what it's like to be a marked team trying to repeat something that had never been done before in the history of the program.
Instead of being on top looking down as they were in 2009, the Mustangs of 2010 spent the season gazing up at their GSAC counterparts, finishing eighth (4-5-1, 7-6-3 overall) in the conference and out of the postseason picture. The freefall was dramatic but not without precedent and almost predictable with new faces and nagging injuries.
A year after allowing only 15 goals in 25 matches, those numbers were almost reversed (23 goals in 16 matches) in 2010 as the Mustangs played without graduated All-American goalie Kevin Lawson for the first time in three years while All-GSAC defender Andy Hegg was never the same following off-season foot surgery. The numbers were even more dramatic in conference play where the club allowed 17 goals in 10 matches.
The Mustangs opened the season with a tough loss at Westminster of Utah and followed that with a pair of ties, the first a 1-1 effort against 10th-ranked Benedictine (KS) and the other a scoreless duel at Cal State San Marcos. Awakening from their season-opening offensive doldrums, the squad literally kicked it into high gear from mid- to late September, reeling off five straight victories, including a three-match stretch in which they found the back of the opponents' net 15 times.
The last two of those wins, on the road at Pt. Loma Nazarene and Fresno Pacific, were overtime affairs that opened GSAC play. Actually, the Mustangs lost to Fresno Pacific on the field of play on September 29 but after the season had concluded it was discovered that the Sunbirds had played with an ineligible athlete, turning a loss into a win and a 2-0 conference start. Three days later, though, the unblemished GSAC record went out with a thud as No. 7 California Baptist spanked the Mustangs 4-0.
However, the Mustangs bounced back in resilient fashion, beating Hope International 3-1 and then blanking San Diego Christian 1-0 for goalie Joey Mackey's first career shutout. In retrospect, a 4-1 looked like the stuff of defending a conference title but, incredibly, the Mustangs would never win again in 2010.
A season-ending, five-game winless skein started with consecutive, one-goal losses to a pair of nationally-ranked clubs, No. 15 Azusa Pacific (2-1) and No. 14 Vanguard (1-0). It continued with a thrilling tie (if there is such a thing) against Concordia when Fabrice Gautrat tallied the tying the goal with 22 seconds left in regulation.
But, even that adrenaline rush couldn't carry over into the two, final regular-season matches with Westmont and Biola as the Mustangs fell to the Warriors and the Eagles to wrap up a very disappointing campaign.