Mustangs Neutralize Lions
October 16, 2013
Santa Clarita, CA -- The Master's College men's soccer team has had no success playing on neutral fields in 2013. Until Wednesday evening in La Mirada when the Mustangs scored twice in the second half to rally past Vanguard 3-2.
The victory was the second in a row for the Mustangs, marking a season-high, who improved to 3-7-1 overall and 2-3 in the GSAC where with this win they vaulted from the cellar into a four-way tie for fourth place.
Playing Wednesday evening's match at Biola because Vanguard's new field wasn't ready yet, the Mustangs were intent on doing something about an 0-2 record on neutral pitches.
However, if the first 22 minutes of play were any indication, it wasn't going to be easy putting a one up on the left side of that slate. In that window of time, the Lions sandwiched a pair of goals around a Jorge Serrano (Sylmar, CA) tally to take a 2-1 lead.
The Lions pounced first at the 15:25 mark when a throw-in from the left side landed by the near post and was tapped past Mustang goalie Kyle Cunningham ((Valencia, CA) by Jesus Fregoso.
It didn't take long, though, for the Mustangs to retaliate. Less than four minutes later (19:21), Serrano took a pass from Vini Barauna (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in the box and sent it past Lion keeper Luca Licciardi to tie the match. It was the senior's fifth goal of the campaign.
But, it took even less time for the Lions to strike back, unknotting the match at the 22:07 mark when Juan Arenallo took a rebound off a Mustang defender outside the box and zipped it past Cunningham into the top left corner of the net for a 2-1 lead.
Then, just as quickly, the offensive spigot turned off for both clubs. In fact, the Lions would never score again and it would take the Mustangs quite a while to knot the match. The Mustangs did have a pair of opportunities to tie the match in the minutes following Arellano's score but Licciardi was able to stop shots by Austin Michelson (Scotts Valley, CA) and Brett Croft (Hesperia, CA) to keep the lead intact.
That's the way the first half ended, one in which both sides put seven shots on goal.
Coming out of the break, the Mustangs attacked the Lion goal, just missing on a Serrano shot that hit the post at the 49:32 mark while efforts by Croft and Joey Mickulas (Monument, CO) a few minutes later were turned back by Licciardi.
All that pressure paid off in the match's 60th minute (59:35) when Austin Rochow (Canyon Country, CA) raced down the right side, took a pass from Zach Klindworth (Valencia, CA), and touched it by Licciardi to knot the match at 2-2. It was Rochow's second goal in as many contests and his third of the year.
Rochow almost put away two more shots in a 17-second span nearly four minutes later but a harried Licciardi managed to keep the attempts out of the goal.
He wasn't so fortunate a few minutes later when Serrano and Klindworth teamed up to send the Mustangs in front. This was no run-of-the-mill goal by Klindworth, either. The sensational freshman took a pass from Serrano at the 67:22 mark and side-volleyed it by Licciardi for what turned out to be his first game-winning goal of a very young, yet promising career.
Mustang coach Jim Rickard was impressed by Klindworth's shot, calling it "an amazing strike that really gave us all a lot of energy and a belief that we could win." Klindworth leads the Mustangs in all three scoring categories, tallying 19 points on seven goals and five assists.
And win they did as the Mustang defense stymied the Lions the rest of the way with Cunningham notching two more of his seven saves to clinch the win.
Rickard was effusive in his praise of his team's play, saying, "We played so hard and well. We had to defend with a lot of passion and desire. Overall, it was a great team effort and a very timely win."
Armed with their first winning streak of the season, the Mustangs return to conference action on Saturday in El Cajon where they'll face off against second-place San Diego Christian (2-1-2 GSAC)