SMSU SOCCER: Mustangs net first victory of the season in home weekend split

Photo by Sam Thiel SMSU’s Emily Huddleston celebrates with Alli Miskowiec after Miskowiec scored a goal in the first half of their game against Bemidji State University on Sunday. The Mustangs fell to the Beavers 4-1.

MARSHALL – The Southwest Minnesota State University soccer team earned its first win of the season to snap a 13-game losing streak against the University of Minnesota Crookston on Saturday, but couldn’t generate enough offense on Sunday in a 4-1 loss to Bemidji State University to split a weekend homestand.

The Mustangs entered the weekend with an 0-13 record and would face another team looking for its first win of the season in the Golden Eagles. Both teams were hungry to find that quick lead early on, but neither squad could find the back of the net.

SMSU had multiple chances near the front of the net, including a shot from Amanda Hartmann that just went wide in the 22nd minute. The Mustangs got three more looks on the offensive end before Mother Nature intervened and forced the game into a lightning delay in the 34th minute.

Neither team could find the back of the net after the delay, as the game remained scoreless at halftime. The Mustangs took six shots total, including three on goal in the first half compared to just one shot for the Golden Eagles.

In the second half, the Mustangs were able to strike first, as Hartmann put one past the goaltender off the cross from Alli Miskowiec to give SMSU the 1-0 lead in the 64th minute. The Mustangs had a few more chances to build on their lead late, but couldn’t capitalize.

SMSU goalkeeper Jenna Meyer earned her first career win and shutout in front of the net, finishing with five saves.

The Mustangs then looked to continue the winning momentum on Sunday against No. 21 ranked and unbeaten Bemidji State. SMSU would find themselves down by a goal at halftime, but a pair of goals from the Beavers in the second half lifted BSU to its 13th win of the season.

The Beavers got things started in the beginning stages, with BSU’s Alanna Mattson put one past Meyer in just the fourth minute of play to give the Beavers a 1-0 lead.

SMSU continued to work on the offensive end and would find its chance midway through the first half. On a loose ball downfield, Miskowiec was able to find the ball to her cleat just before it reached the gloves of the goaltender, and struck a bullet that found the back of the net for the equalizer and giving the Mustangs a tied game at 1-1.

BSU wouldn’t go away, however, as Mattson sent a laser shot into the upper 90 of the net for her second goal of the day to retake the lead for the Beavers at 2-1 six minutes later.

The one-goal deficit would hold for the Mustangs at the break, who found themselves outshot 11-4 in the first half.

In the second half, the Beavers pushed their lead to 3-1 in the 61st minute on a goal from Allyson Smith before Dani Nelson made it 4-1 in favor of BSU in the 70th minute to bring it to the final score.

SMSU coach Erin Kasmarik-Mallett said she was pleased with their effort against a tough Beavers team, especially in the first half.

“Take nothing away from Bemidji; they’re a very good team. When you play against a good team, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get or create as many chances, it’s really important that we capitalize on the ones that we got and in the first half we did,” Kasmarik-Mallett said. “From that standpoint, it was a great goal and a great lift for us. They actually changed their shape to sort out the things that we did, so those were all encouraging signs for the direction we are going.”

Kasmarik-Mallett said their key on the offensive end was doing the little things right and clicking as an offense at times.

“I think we were just doing the little things right and making the right decisions and runs. Offense is very much about the player that has the ball and the players making the runs seeing the same things and I thought we did really well with that,” Kasmarik-Mallett said. “What really makes great offense really click is that they’re on the same page, and I thought that there were moments where that was the case.”

Meyer finished with eight saves for the Mustangs in the net. Kasmarik-Mallett said they’ve been more solid on the defensive end over the last few weeks and just have to learn from and limit their mistakes.

“I like the way we are going from a defensive standpoint in that we are continuing to become more and more solid in terms of what we do and how we defend. It’s just a matter of continuing to learn and grow from those mistakes,” Kasmarik-Mallett said. “Making mistakes is always going to be a part of the game, but for us it’s just that we learn and grow so we only make the mistake once.”

SMSU (1-14) will head on the road to face Wayne State College on Friday before coming back for its Senior Night game against Augustana University next Sunday to wrap up the regular season.

Kasmarik-Mallett said their biggest takeaway will be if they play well enough and have confidence, they can play with anyone.

“To be honest, if we’re playing well enough, we can play with anybody. We took care of a team that’s obviously having a tough season like we are, but then you come back the next day and play against a ranked team and stick with them and some things go a little differently and that game is even closer,” Kasmarik-Mallett said. “The biggest thing that we can take away is that if we play well, we have the confidence to be able to compete with anybody.”