The Master’s University midfielder Michaela Rickard lofted a towering pass over the Hope International defense and onto the foot of a sprinting Stephanie Albright.
Albright settled the ball and booted it into the net in the 57th minute. And this one stuck.
After having two would-be scores erased by offsides calls, the Mustangs scored two second-half goals and held off a fierce Royals rally for a 2-1 win at TMU on Tuesday.
It was a breakthrough game for Albright, as she earned her first goal of the season despite having 16 shots on goal this year.
“I talked to her before the game and said, ‘What’s your goal celebration going to be,’” said coach Curtis Lewis. “Because you have to change that psyche.”
Albright elected to run and jump-hug Hailey Gomillion, sending both to the ground.
Whitney Gomillion scored 17 minutes later when she sent a low line drive, from 30 yards out, past a lunging keeper.
It was the fifth time in 13 games that TMU has scored at least two goals in a game, and it came at a crucial time.
“Today was massive,” Lewis said. “You have to beat people who are right around you (in the standings).”
The Mustangs (5-4-3 overall) and Royals (6-3-2) entered Tuesday tied for sixth in the Golden State Athletic Conference at 1-2-1. The conference’s top-six finishers make the GSAC tournament.
“We were both kind of in the same place,” said Rickard, who recorded her first assist of the season. “We were both hungry and wanting to get a win and get above each other.”
TMU took just two shots in the first half, compared to Hope’s four.
Lewis, though, took a calm approach in the locker room.
“We had a really bad first half, really bad,” Lewis said. “… They were probably expecting me to yell, and I just sat quietly. I just said, ‘Look, is that what we’re about?’
“Sometimes silence is louder than yelling.”
The Mustangs connected passes better after halftime and outshot the Royals, 6-5. TMU keeper Jessica Zubia made six saves in the game, the last coming in the final 10 seconds to seal the win.
The Mustangs will play Arizona Christian in Phoenix on Saturday.