The Mustangs women's soccer team hosted the Owls of Union County College in the final game of the season Tuesday.
The home team players stepped onto the field with enthusiasm, determined to deliver their best performance of the season.
Two early goals from freshman forward Mallory Mugnier set the Mustangs ablaze and set the tone for the rest of the match up. Right away the Mustangs put offensive pressure on the Owls. Mugnier collected the ball for a break away goal at 4:14. Less than a minute later, she knocked in another one off a corner kick from freshman defender Taylor Sejda.
Up 2-0, the Mustangs worked to keep offensive pressure on the Owls, taking chances up the field and flying towards the Owls' net. But the Owls took advantage of the Mustangs' risky play, catching the defense off guard to earn a break away goal of their own.
The Mustangs settled down to reorganize the defense and solidify their backfield coverage, while the Owls struggled to get control of the game. Eventually, the Mustangs set out on the attack again, getting the ball up in front of the net to earn a corner kick. Sejda sailed the ball into the box, finding freshman Emily McKay, who flung the ball into the goal with a powerful header.
Next freshman captain Brigitta Good got her chance to score, tapping in a pass from Mugnier. The Mustangs squad erupted with cheers for Good, who usually plays as a central back on the team's defense.
"It was so exciting to be up on the front line and score a goal," exclaimed Good. "Our team was really having a great time out there and it showed in our play. We really stepped it up for our last game of the season."
Good's goal put the Mustangs up 4-1 but the team wasn't finished yet. Late in the second half, Mugnier received a pass up top from sophomore Liz Keegan. She blasted in one final goal for the Mustangs, recording her third hat trick of the season and securing the 5-1 win for her team.
Noteworthy on defense were the performances of three Mustangs goalkeepers, each of whom saw playing time in the match up. Keegan, who started in goal made four saves before coming out on the forward line. Amanda Schultz recorded fifteen minutes in goal, collecting three saves and Masumi Pinto (Tsunami) finished out the game for the Mustangs with two saves in her first goal tending appearance of the season.
"I was totally pumped when Tsunami made her first save," commented Keegan, the team's captain and primary goal keeper. "It was a pretty hard shot and she was fearless in the net."
The Mustangs finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 4-7-2 and an NJCAA Region 19 record of 4-5-2. The team earned a Region 19 average of .455, just missing the .500 average required to enter post-season play.
"Overall, I think we really advanced the program over last year's record," commented Mustangs Head Coach Tom Haney. "Yea, the team is bummed about not making the playoffs, but I am so proud of them for stepping up the level of play and taking some huge strides of improvement. This program is moving in the right direction and I think next season we'll continue to build on this momentum."