Irritated in Irvine

October 24, 2012

Box Score:

Irvine, Calif. - Despite playing one of its toughest matches of the season and taking one of the nation's premier teams down to the wire, The Master's College men's soccer team couldn't prevent Christian Ramirez and No. 7 Concordia from pulling out a hard-fought 1-0 victory Wednesday afternoon in Irvine.

On a day when the host Eagles wrapped up the GSAC's regular-season title and inspite of a loss that snapped a two-match winning streak, the Mustangs still managed to clinch a berth in the conference tournament that starts a week from today.  That was made possible when Hope International beat Westmont, leaving the Mustangs (7-9-1 overall, 3-5-1 GSAC) all alone in sixth place, the final qualifying spot for the GSAC Tournament.

Deploying an old-school defense with a traditional sweeper and marking backs, Coach Jim Rickard said, "we couldn't have played any tougher."  The strategy worked for over 84 minutes until Ramirez, the conference's leading scorer (19 goals, 42 points), took a pass from teammate Joel Palomares and put the ball past Mustang goalie Andrew Bussell (Bakersfield, CA) with 5:41 left to play.  It capped off an afternoon during which the Eagles pounded away at the Mustangs' pack-it-in defense to the tune of a 19-5 shot advantage, including a 6-3 margin in shots on goal.

It proved to be enough as the Mustangs really didn't threaten the rest of the way, suffering their fifth shutout loss of the campaign.  It's not that the Mustangs didn't have their chances to score but those were few and far between as evidenced by a pair of shots on goal in the first half and just one more in the second.  However, Eagle goalie Julio Trejo was up to the task, stopping shots by Brett Croft (Hesperia, CA) and James Obimbo (Nairobi, Kenya) in the first stanza and then turning back an Austin Michelson (Scotts Valley, CA) attempt in the final period.

After losing to the Eagles for the second time this year, the Mustangs hope to keep that from happening again on Saturday when they travel to Biola for the regular-season finale and a possible preview of the playoff opener .  Back on September 26, the Mustangs were blanked 1-0 by the Eagles from La Mirada.  No matter what happens on Saturday, the Mustangs can't improve their playoff spot and must await the results of other matches on that day to determine where they will play on October 31.