UMHB men’s and women’s soccer teams end 2022 seasons in NCAA Tournament

The 2022 seasons, in all their excitement and success, came to a close for the UMHB men’s and women’s soccer teams on Saturday night in the first round of each of their respective NCAA Tournaments. 

The Crusader men, ASC champions for the third time in program history this season, finished a memorable year at 13-3-2 overall. The women, who captured the program’s first ASC championship, capped a historic year at 17-1-1 overall, and were ranked No. 13 in Friday’s D3soccer.com Top 25 Poll. 

UMHB men drop 4-2 match to Pacific Lutheran

BELTON- The Crusaders had put together a couple of second-half rallies over the course of this fall, and nearly came up with another on Saturday night. But time was not on their side, and more than missed opportunities, Pacific Lutheran simply took the majority of scoring chances away, before UMHB even got within accurate striking range. 

When PLU took a 3-1 lead in the 76th minute, UMHB naturally upped its intensity and increased its aggressiveness, seeking some way to close the gap. The Cru found their answer just under four minutes later, when Jack Bryan stepped up with a goal, finding the back of the net to keep UMHB’s hopes of victory alive. 

Bryan and the Crusaders sprinted to midfield, eager to resume play, and well aware that the job was far from completed. The back line did its best to hold the margin to a single goal, but PLU’s relentless pressure in UMHB territory gave way to Cris Lozano’s goal in the 86th minute, and widened the margin enough to minimize the chances of a comeback. 

The Lutes of PLU, champions out of the Northwest Conference, lived up to head coach Ben Allen’s assessment of being a strong offensive squad. The offensive attack is a major reason 

PLU took a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute, and nearly made it 2-0 11 minutes later, if not for a spectacular diving save by centerback Peyton Hoyt. Defensive plays such as the one from Hoyt and an overall committed effort from the Cru kept PLU at bay until the 34th minute, when Bryan scored his first goal of the night, off well-placed passes from NIck Villanueva and Alex Bethke, who were credited with the double-assist. 

Though the result was not what the Cru hoped it would be, the 2022 season will be unforgettable. In Allen’s first year as head coach, UMHB continued the tradition of excellence built over the last several seasons, and won the conference with a dominant 6-0 win over LeTourneau. 

“This group, especially for the first year, is special,” Allen said postgame. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. They gave it everything they had.” 

UMHB women fall 2-1 to Pacific Lutheran

SAN ANTONIO, Texas- In a match that started nearly an hour after the scheduled kickoff time due to the Trinity vs. Pomona-Pitzer first round duel  going into overtime, the UMHB women’s soccer team left everything on the field. 

In the end, the scoring came a little too late to overcome PLU’s 2-0 lead, and the Lutes, the champions in the Northwest Conference, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

After outshooting PLU 7-4 in the opening half, yet trailing 1-0 after Alyssa Leong’s goal in the 43rd minute, UMHB finally broke the shut-out 79th minute. When the ball was sent into PLU territory following a throw-in, UMHB’s Natalie Mason sprinted towards the rolling ball in the open field, with two PLU players matching her step-for-step. But she outdistanced them by a few feet, getting to the ball, then immediately passing it to Ashley Vensel, who put a quick shot into the back of the net just before PLU goalkeeper Shaylin Cesar slid in for the save. The goal kept UMHB in the fight, cutting the deficit back to one, 2-1. 

Over the next 11 minutes, the Cru tallied three shots; two from Shay Taylor and one from Maria Rico. But PLU’s back line was solid, limiting UMHB’s scoring opportunities. UMHB outshot PLU 18-10, though just three of those shots were on goal for the Crusaders. 

2022 was arguably the most successful year ever for UMHB women’s soccer, which was carried by nine seniors, and defeated Hardin-Simmons for the first time in program history, along with making the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance, and capturing its first conference title, as mentioned above. The Crusaders also became the first team in program history to play a complete season, and go undefeated during the regular season. 

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