Jonathan Brown bent it inside the far post. Sarah Stead lifted it high into the frame’s upper regions. And men’s and women’s cross country went low, low, low. The postseason is upon us at The Master’s University and with it, last Friday and Saturday, came goals in the figurative and literal sense. Men’s cross country claimed its eighth straight Golden State Athletic Conference championship up in Rocklin, near Sacramento, on Saturday. That was only the first act. The women’s team navigated the same course an hour later and came away with the first GSAC crown in program history. It posted the school’s lowest-ever team score in the process. “They’ve been working for this for a long time,” said coach Zach Schroeder. The culmination of the years-long effort actually went fast. Saugus High graduate Abigail Frankian finished first overall with a time of 17 minutes, 44.9 seconds. Mustang teammates Mikala Fairchild (Hart High) and Rachelle Nelson were right behind in second and third, respectively, leading Master’s to a decisive victory. The Mustangs beat second-place Westmont College from Santa Barbara, 24-47, amid the field of eight teams. The men’s race was a little bit – OK, a lot – closer.
The seven-time defending champion Mustangs put two runners across in second and third place (Stephen Pacheco and Skyler Mikesell, respectively) but had to sweat it out until Alec Franco edged Westmont’s Michael Conant for 13th place by less than four seconds. The Mustangs beat Westmont 37-38. “My team prepared well today. They brought their best,” Schroeder said, “and the Lord gave us the victory.” Nearly 400 miles south, TMU men’s soccer found itself in a similarly dogged fight. Menlo had tied the score 1-1 in the 72nd minute of the GSAC quarterfinal at TMU, and overtime was hurtling toward reality. Then Mustang Taylor Howard threaded a pass to Brown inside the 18-yard box. Brown received it with his back to the goal, turned and hooked the ball inside the far post. Arms held out, he sprinted to the sideline, where he was mobbed by teammates. “Everyone was thrilled,” said coach Jim Rickard. The game-winner earned TMU a date with Westmont on Thursday in Santa Barbara. Winner will head to Saturday’s finals. TMU women’s soccer is one step from glory, too. Before Friday’s GSAC quarterfinal, coach Curtis Lewis challenged his team to raise its level of professionalism. Namely, he wanted a shutout of Arizona Christian University. The Mustangs met his expectations, winning 4-0 at TMU behind a dominant first half. Four different TMU players scored. Vanessa Lourenco tallied a goal and an assist, the pass setting up Stead’s highlight. Stead controlled the ball around 23 yards from goal, beat a defender laterally and launched a shot over the keeper’s head. The Mustangs will play Westmont on Wednesday in the semifinals, which will be hosted by Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. Master’s is 0-2 against the Warriors this season. “Sometimes you say as a team, ‘Oh no, we have to play them again.’ But I think our team is very much hungry,” Lewis said. Notes:
TMU women’s soccer player Jasmine Parada, a Valencia High grad, earned GSAC co-Player of the Year honors last week. … Mustang men’s soccer player Benjamin Tembo was named GSAC Player of the Year. … TMU will host the inaugural GSAC women’s volleyball tournament on Friday and Saturday. The quarterfinals start at 5 p.m. Friday, with the semifinals Saturday morning and the final that night. For more info, visit GSACSports.org or GoMustangs.com.