It was surely a quality win as the Bulldogs came in as the back-to-back Great American Conference champions, but the Mustangs were more concerned with closing a good opponent out after surrendering two late goals in a 3-2 win over Angelo State on Friday.
"We made an emphasis of (closing the match)," MSU coach Jeff Trimble said. "The point I made to the girls was before we go back to Angelo and play in that atmosphere for our Lone Star Conference championship tournament, I felt like it was a gift to have this game. To be put in situations like that whether it's a corner kick late in the game like it was before."
Midwestern State came through the challenge with great resolve, so now the Mustangs head back to San Angelo to take on Texas A&M-Commerce in the LSC Postseason Tournament's semifinal round Friday at the ASU Soccer Complex. Kickoff is set for noon.
With a win, the Mustangs move on to the finals against the Angelo State/West Texas A&M winner Sunday at 1 p.m.
Southwestern Oklahoma State controlled the run of play in the opening half with a 9-2 shot edge, yet the Bulldogs were down on the scoreboard.
MSU dynamic sophomore midfielder Morgan Hannon found space in the SWOSU defensive third and ripped a shot against a stiff South wind that floated over the head of Bulldogs' goalkeeper Courtney Flores resulting in Hannon's third goal of the season.
"Morgan is our engine. She gets us going," Trimble said. "She wins 50-50 balls and she's very good with the ball at her feet. She's a dangerous player. She's strong. When we need it, she comes up big for us."
Hannon wasn't finished, either, but she did finish off the Bulldogs deep in the second half.
The Midland High product worked free on the left end and feathered a well placed through ball to speedy sophomore Kensli Pounds, who beat Flores to the ball and knocked it in for her third goal of the season to give the Mustangs a commanding two-goal advantage in the 69th minute.
"Kensli's getting better and better and realizing she can do that. That's something we need more of," Trimble said. "We need that dangerous speed up top. She gives us that dimension."
The goals were more than enough for senior goalkeeper Kallie Essary, who made five saves including a brilliant one-on-one stop in the second half to finish off her fourth clean sheet in the last five matches.
The shutout also ties the school single season mark of eight set by Elli O'Dwyer in 2004 and matched by Mallory Whitworth in 2010.
Essary boasts a miniscule 0.66 goals against average and an .857 save percentage after taking over as MSU's primary goalkeeper this season. She had spent the previous three playing sparingly behind Whitworth.
"She has impressed me more than any player I have coached as far as what she's done, what she's gone through and what she has accomplished this season," Trimble said. "You don't have players that do all the work off the field, wait for their turn then achieve. I'm very emotional about that because I am very happy for her."
Southwestern Oklahoma State closes the regular season with an 11-4-2 mark.
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