PLYMOUTH, Wis. -- With a game-winning goal with just 7 minutes left, the Sabercats took a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Lakeland University Muskies (NACC) tonight.
Alexis Sponable was back to her scoring ways, as the sophomore scored her first goal of the 2018 campaign to give the Sabercats their first win of the season. The win was MBU's seventh in the 27-game historical series.
- Result: Maranatha 1-0 Lakeland
- Venue: Taylor Field, Lakeland University
- Location: Plymouth, Wis.
- Attendance: 108
- Records: MBU (1-1-0), LU (1-1-1)
It was a hot and humid night near the shores of Lake Michigan, and neither team could find the breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes. Lakeland came close with a couple of long-range shots in the 18th and 38th minutes, but a couple of athletic punch-saves from Hannah Wells kept the Muskies off of the scoreboard. Wells kept the shutout intact with six saves in the first half alone and would go on to make 11 saves in the contest. It's only Wells' first year between the posts, so an 11-save shutout against the Muskies is a noteworthy performance.
Lakeland started the season with a win over North Central (Minn.) and a draw against Wisconsin-Superior, and the Muskies showed their quality in the first half. The Muskies called the shots in the opening act, as they didn't allow the Sabercats a single shot on goal.
The halftime team talk seemed to help, as two shots on goal from Alison Hernandez gave the Sabercats some momentum in the early stages of the second half.
The game-winner came with just seven minutes left, and it was inevitable. Inside the final 10 minutes, Alyssa Wright almost connected with Sponable on a cross, and after Jaclyn Dahl was stuffed by the Lakeland goalkeeper, the Sabercats could sense a goal coming.
It came when Bethany Chesky collected a loose ball in midfield and slipped a perfectly-weighted pass between two Muskie defenders and into the path of an onrushing Sponable. The sophomore poked the ball away from the oncoming goalkeeper and inserted it into the gaping net to give the Sabercats the 1-0 lead and silence the Muskie fans.
The spirited Muskies wouldn't go down without a fight, as they kept the ball mostly in the Sabercats' half for the remaining time. Wells was called upon to make one final save with just three minutes on the clock, but the Muskies' attempt was a routine catch for the MBU goalkeeper.
The MBU defense stood strong through the remaining moments, successfully closing out the 1-0 win.
THE SOUND BITE
"Obviously I'm stoked for the girls to get a great result tonight," said Coach Dave Anderson after the game. "But I'm even more excited about the progress we showed in a quick turnaround from last weekend. We defended well, and I think we really frustrated Lakeland tonight. Hannah Wells came up big for us in goal, and several of our freshmen grew a lot in tonight's game - it was as if you could see the transition from high school to college all in a 90-minute match."
- Shot count: Lakeland held a 20-11 advantage in the shot category.
- Wells: registered 6 saves in the first half and 5 in the second.
- Hernandez, Dahl: both registered 2 shots; all on goal
- Sponable: fired 5 shots, scored her 17th collegiate goal
- Chesky: tallied her 6th career assist
- Series: The Sabercats now hold an all-time record of 7-19-1 against the Muskies.
- The Muskies compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
- LU took a 2-1 win over North Central (Minn.) and a 0-0 tie against Wisconsin-Superior to start the season.
- Lakeland has yet to begin conference play this season.
The Sabercats will host North Central University on Thursday at 2 p.m. Find details of the game at mbusabercats.com/composite.