Above Photo: Ashley Vensel, who scored three goals to complete a “hat trick” against LeTourneau (Photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
It was a winning Saturday for UMHB athletics, as both the Cru men’s and women’s soccer teams prevailed on their home turf against LeTourneau, while Cru Volleyball pulled out a five-set win three hours to the north. As we plan to do each weekend moving forwards, here is a look at some of the biggest storylines and notable achievements from Saturday’s contests.
Vensel’s hat trick is the first for UMHB Women’s Soccer since 2021
Ashley Vensel’s week was undoubtedly one to remember.
The senior scored the go-ahead goal in Monday’s historic 1-0 win at Trinity. Then she came through with the second goal of UMHB’s 2-0 defeat of ETBU in Thursday’s ASC opener.
But neither of those performances compared to the showcase she put on display Saturday evening, when she notched the first hat trick of her collegiate career, scoring three goals in UMHB’s 6-0 win over LeTourneau.
It started early in the match, as UMHB came out with an aggressive attack, tallying 13 shots to LeTourneau’s one in the opening half. Vensel found the back of the net on her first shot of the match in the eighth minute, taking a pass from Jayme Dowell and sending it past LeTourneau goalkeeper Kelauna Cruz for a 1-0 lead.
Almost exactly three minutes later, it was Vensel again, scoring on an assist from Natalie Mason. That was the extent of the first half scoring, but things ramped up offensively for UMHB in the second half.
Morgan Rathmell scored in the 53rd minute before Vensel sent a third shot into the goal, completing the rare hat trick on a penalty kick in the 68th minute. It marks the first time since March 19, 2021 that a Crusader recorded a hat trick, as Grace Greenly scored a trio of goals in a 5-0 win over Concordia.
Incredibly, Vensel scored more goals in this week alone (5) than she did in her previous three years with The Cru. The McKinney native now has six goals in nine matches in 2023, which is a team-high.
UMHB Volleyball wins in 5-set thriller in Richardson
Against league rival UT-Dallas, the UMHB Volleyball team took the Comets down to the wire and prevailed in five-set victory, winning the fifth set by a slim 15-13 margin. It improves UMHB’s record to 15-1, as The Cru has won its last six matches, and now sits alone in second place in the ASC standings, with a 5-1 league record.
It also marks the first time since September of 2021 that UMHB has beaten UTD, with the Comets having won the last four meetings.
Perhaps the most pivotal point in the match came in the fifth set, and UMHB’s response to UTD’s 25-11 fourth set win. With the match score knotted at 2-2, The Cru fell behind 7-4 in the fifth set. UMHB cut the deficit to two points three times, but the Comets soon led 11-9, coming closer to clinching the match.
A 4-0 scoring run from UMHB followed, giving the Crusaders momentum as Hannah Frasca tallied a pair of kills, and Katie Warden added another. UTD tied it at 13, but consecutive kills from Warden sealed UMHB’s victory.
“We are grateful to be 15-1 and this is a good win,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said. “But we have to really focus this week on the mental part of our game. We need to get tougher mentally to maintain focus on the game plan for an entire match.”
One area of specific improvement that Pryor pointed out was UMHB’s approach to its serves. UTD finished the match with eight service aces, while the Crusaders tallied just four.
“We have to serve the ball more aggressively,” he said. “If we can’t improve on that, then we won’t be able to achieve the success this group is capable of.”
Hannah Frasca led The Cru with 21 kills, recording her first 20+ kill performance of the season. She also led the team with 23 digs. UMHB returns to action in Belton on Oct. 6, hosting Howard Payne in a doubleheader in ASC play.
UMHB men’s soccer records consecutive shutouts with 4+ goals for first time since March 2021
For the first time in 2023, UMHB men’s soccer has won consecutive matches.
Things went well for The Cru on Saturday night in its second conference match of the season, as a rematch of the 2022 ASC Championship Game played out in Belton. UMHB shutout LeTourneau, 4-0, following up on Thursday’s 4-0 victory over ETBU.
It marks the first time since Oct. 6, 2022 that the Crusaders have recorded back-to-back shutouts. But you would have to go back to March 14, 2021 to find the last time that UMHB tallied consecutive shutouts AND scored four or more goals in both matches. On March 8, 2021, UMHB took down Howard Payne 5-0, and six days later, on March 14, beat HPU again by the same score.
Amongst the notables in Saturday’s win, Mason Crites recorded the first goal of his collegiate career, as the freshman scored in the 18th minute for a 1-0 lead. Xjavier Martinez scored the first of his two goals in the 34th minute, converting on a penalty kick for a 2-0 halftime lead. Ethan Dacaret and Martinez extended the advantage as the second half progressed, with UMHB turning in its third four-goal performance of 2023.
The Crusaders are one of just two ASC teams who have begun 2023 with a 2-0 ASC record, the other program being Concordia (TX). UMHB holds a 4-3-2 record heading into next week’s contests at Howard Payne and Sul Ross State.