Santa Clarita, CA- The Opening round of the NAIA's Women's National Tournament started today full of fanfare and activity. With both teams raring to go the excitement in the air was palpable. The game began under a cloudy sky with an uncharacteristically cool breeze blowing for the Southern California afternoon. The Lady Mustangs entered the game sporting a 16-2-2 record led by the GSAC Player of the year, Emily Bruton. The Bengals of the University of Maine-Fort Kent, winners of the Sunrise Conference, boasted a 19-2 record behind the impressive play of Whitney Sinclair who led the NAIA in goals, assists, and points.
The Mustangs entered the game a little flat. They seemed to just be a step off in winning balls and their movement slightly out of synch. As the half went on however, they slowly improved. They began to control the ball with more efficiency and to make runs together. In the 29th minute the Mustangs finally got the connection they needed. With the Bengal box full of grey shirts, TMC worked the all into the scoring position. Sierra Goff took a shot to the left side of the goal and the Bengal's keeper made a jumping save to slap the ball away. Emily Bruton was there for the put back however and the Mustangs took the 1-0 lead at 15:34.
As Mustang fans have seen so often, the score seemed to act as a shot of adrenaline for TMC. The squad took on an extra level of aggression. The Mustangs doubled their score 12 minutes later. Rachel Hartenberger sent the ball form the corner of the box to Bobbie Roberts who flicked it over her head to Alyssa Adkins who finished it off for the goal at 27:26. They had another great look from Hartenberger just a few minutes later that hit off the crossbar and was cleared by the Bengals in another close call for the visitors. TMC closed out the half with 19 shots compared to Main-Fort Kent's 4.
The Mustangs picked up in the second half where they left off, getting a shot in the first two minutes that was wide right. The squad continued to get good looks at the goal but could not convert again until over mid-way through the half. Bobby Roberts took a throw in from the right side of the field and found Sierra Goff along the goal line who slotted it in pass the keeper for TMC's third goal of the game with 70:05 on the clock. From then it was just a matter of time. The Mustangs continued to get great looks at the goal, getting 11 shots in the second half, but finished out with a 3-0 win.
The Mustangs move on to Decatur, Alabama for second round play on Tuesday, November 30th where they have been matched with GSAC opponent Cal Baptist. Game time is set for 7:00pm.