Editor's note: MSUB Release.
BILLINGS, Mont. – Sydney Torres scored her first-career golden goal on Saturday afternoon at Yellowjacket Field, lifting the Montana State University Billings women’s soccer team to a 2-1 Great Northwest Athletic Conference victory over visiting Simon Fraser University.
Three minutes into the opening overtime period, Torres’ one-time effort from the top of the box on a drop pass from Jordan Roe carried over the head of SFU goalkeeper Kelsey Fisher, glanced off the crossbar, and landed over the goal line to end the match. “I feel like we have the most energy when we go into overtime,” said Torres, with Saturday marking the team’s third overtime match of the year. “I knew I had to be ready in case that extra ball came out to me, and as soon as I saw the ball I just took the opportunity. As soon as I scored it felt like the most exciting thing in the world, especially having Jordan pick me up and having the whole team run onto the field and celebrate.”
Torres’ finish – MSUB’s first golden goal since Hayley Warren scored in the 98th minute of a 2-1 win over Simon Fraser on Oct. 27, 2016 in Billings – prompted a wild celebration on the field as Roe hoisted Torres and the Yellowjacket bench rushed over to celebrate. “It is so awesome winning in a golden goal situation like that, because we knew when it went in that the game was over,” said senior defender Ally Findlay, who scored her first goal in an MSUB uniform on Saturday as well. “We were saying on the side how we wanted to finish it in the first five minutes, and it was pretty quick.”
“In the first half we got that goal on the corner, so I knew we could definitely do it again,” said Torres on a day where MSUB looked dangerous on all seven of its corner kicks. “I have never experienced something like that before, and especially to celebrate it at home with a big fan base – I wouldn’t change anything about that.”
Findlay’s finish also came on a corner kick, as she put the Yellowjackets ahead just six minutes into the match. After Leila Clark’s service was punched out by Fisher, Findlay got her right foot on the ball and tapped it into the back of the net. “I was a little surprised when I saw it go in, and I was just in the right spot at the right time,” Findlay said. “It was a beautiful ball in, it bounced around a little bit, and I just put my foot through it and hoped for the best.”
Findlay’s 93-minute effort at center back highlighted a strong defensive day by the Yellowjackets overall, as MSUB limited SFU to just six shots including one in the opening 45 minutes of play. “It was a great day for Ally,” MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo said. “She has come through a lot in this season alone, and I’m really proud of her. She stepped up big, gave us 93 minutes, and her leadership and character within the team is really helping us right now.”
Playing alongside Findlay at center back for the full 93 minutes was Hailee Gertsch, while Sydney Wate had one of her top performances in an MSUB uniform with 87 strong minutes at outside back. Cassie Southwick played 89 minutes on the outside, senior Lexie Bloyder ran the flanks for 70 minutes, and Kiley Sandow, who checked in at the outset of overtime, delivered the corner kick on Torres’ game-winning strike. “We all clicked really well,” Findlay commented on the defensive unit. “We communicated well, and me and Gertsch especially passing on marks. We talked the whole game and worked as a team very well in the back.”
The ‘Jackets nudged their overall record back above .500 at 5-4-2, and improved to 2-3-1 in conference play with the win. SFU meanwhile slipped to 2-6-1 overall and is 3-3 in league play. At the end of Saturday’s action, SFU sat in third place in the conference standings while the ‘Jackets were tied for fifth. “It is awesome, especially after a frustrating loss on Thursday,” Findlay said referring to a 4-0 defeat at the hands of No. 6 Western Washington on Thursday afternoon. “We did not play as well as we could have, and to really turn it around and come out with more energy and fight today was great.”
Kiara Buono scored SFU’s goal in the 54th minute, firing a long shot from well outside the goal box that carried over the head of MSUB goalkeeper Tuva Sallvin and evened the score at 1-1 shortly after the halftime break. It was the lone blemish against the Yellowjacket goalkeeper on Saturday, who improved her record to 3-0 making four saves between the posts.
Liberty Palmer continued her torrid pace of play, leading all players with six shots including three on target in Saturday’s match. The true freshman’s 15 shots on goal are tied for most in the GNAC and her shots-on-goal percentage of .536 is highest among all GNAC players to average at least two shots per game.
Fisher made six saves for Simon Fraser, which picked up the pace in the second half and placed all five of its attempts on frame. Emily Smith, Jenieva Musico, and Katie Richardson all played the full 93 minutes on the back line, as did Buono and Danae Robillard in the midfield.
“It feels great to get three points, and we knew coming into this game that we desperately needed three points,” said MSUB head coach Stephen Cavallo. “I think that we started the game great, scoring in the first five minutes, and we had sustained pressure the whole rest of the half. We know that Saturday matches in this conference are always going to be a dogfight, and it is a battle after playing 90 minutes on Thursday. I’m really proud of the team for pushing, keeping going, and getting a winner in overtime.”
THE BUZZ: Findlay was selected as the St. Vincent Healthcare Player of the Game…it was Findlay’s second collegiate goal, as she scored once during her two seasons at Clark College…Torres’ goal was her third of the season…Roe’s assist was her second of the year and the third of her career…MSUB is now 13-7 all-time against Simon Fraser and 7-2 in home matches against SFU…MSUB has beaten Simon Fraser three times in overtime, each time by the score of 2-1.
NEXT UP: The ‘Jackets are home again next week, hosting Northwest Nazarene University next Thursday at 2 p.m. and No. 25 Seattle Pacific University next Saturday at 1 p.m. Live coverage for next week’s matches will be available online here.