Photo by Russell Marwitz/True to The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
It is Monday, and the weekend is behind us. Rather than write this column/recap on Sundays, I’ve moved this to Mondays, but with the same idea: looking at the biggest storylines from the weekend and its results.
We had plenty of action in Belton over the weekend, with volleyball, football, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer playing contests at home. So here’s a glance at some of the highlights of those contests that stuck out to me, plus the mention of a basketball game in Kosovo with a UMHB connection.
Prince’s big debut
On Thursday, I wrote about UMHB men’s basketball alum Ty Prince, and his pro contract in Kosovo. Well, it turns out that it didn’t take him long to make an impact. In his professional debut on Saturday for KB Istogu, a 90-72 loss to KB Prishtina, the 6-foot-5 forward led his team in scoring, with 20 points.
Prince shot 8-of-9 from the field, and was 4-of-7 from the free-throw line. He pulled down nine rebounds, another team-high, and dished out three assists. All in 26 minutes of action. Prince is one of four Americans in Istogu’s starting lineup, with Matthew Lang (Portland, OR), Arian Azemi (Brooklyn, NY), and Kahlon Whitley (Augusta, GA), being the others. Azemi notably played at both Rutgers-Camden and Rowan, a pair of D-III schools in the NJAC, making it not one, but two D-III alums amongst the starting five.
UT-Dallas, UMHB matchup lived up to its expectations
What happens when you get two of the nation’s Top 5 defensive teams on the same field? We got that answer on Saturday night, as UMHB women’s soccer battled UT-Dallas in a thrilling ASC battle.
The two played scoreless through the first half, which is to be expected when you have two teams who each have only allowed two goals through the first 12 matches of the season. But Mackenzie Worthy came through with a goal in the 52nd minute for UMHB, putting The Cru in control.
By and large, UMHB was the stronger offensive team, taking 27 shots to UTD’s five. And 11 of those 27 were on goal. But the Comets found the back of the net once as well, with Ashlyn Thomas scoring with just six minutes left in the match. Her goal knotted the score at 1-1, ending the match in a draw. UMHB is now 12-0-1 this season and has now gone 16 consecutive matches at home without a loss.
The ASC really has three league title contenders this season, with UMHB leading the pack. UTD and Hardin-Simmons are both very much in the conversation, however, as neither has taken a loss yet. UMHB gets another big test this week, traveling to Hardin-Simmons on Thursday in a contest that could decide who hosts the final two rounds of the ASC Tournament.
UMHB Men’s Soccer maintains its place at the top
Only one team in the ASC still has an unblemished record in conference play heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. And that team resides in Belton.
UMHB’s 2-0 week featured wins over Ozarks and UT-Dallas by a difference of multiple scores, improving the Crusaders’ ASC record to a perfect 5-0. Hardin-Simmons, No. 2 in the league with a 3-0-1 record, hosts UMHB in Abilene on Thursday of this coming week.
Saturday night’s 2-0 shutout of UT-Dallas, especially with the relentless aggressiveness seen in the second half. UMHB had a 2-0 lead by the 37th minute, yet kept the pressure on; the Comets managed just four shots in the second 45 minutes of play. UTD had just six shots in the match as a whole, with only two of those being on goal. Performances like that one will keep The Cru in control of the conference, as they demonstrated success on the offensive end and held the opposition at bay on the defensive end. Sawyer Young and Ethan Dacaret were responsible for UMHB’s two goals in the win.
Cru Volleyball closing in on record in midst of win streak
Sometimes, when a team is dominating its competition and has a record of, say, 21-1, with three weeks left in the season, it’s a good idea to check the record book. Sure enough, UMHB Volleyball is in the midst of a very memorable 2023 campaign. And seven matches still remain.
Here’s a number for you: 18. That’s the program record for most sweeps (3-0 wins) recorded in a single season, set back in 2017, when UMHB went 28-5. Right now, UMHB has 17, after sweeping both ETBU and LeTourneau on consecutive days in ASC play this weekend. Two more sweeps and a new record will belong to this 2023 squad, the same squad that was picked to finish third in the conference in the league’s preseason poll two months ago.
In many ways, it isn’t purely the wins this team has accumulated that has made the UMHB faithful start glancing towards November and the national tournament. It is the way in which the Cru has won. ETBU entered Friday’s match as a team that hadn’t dropped more than a single set in six straight contests, all victories. The Tigers lost three straight sets in Belton on Friday night. And then UMHB came back on Saturday with a sweep of LeTourneau. For good measure, The Cru added another win to their total in the late afternoon on Saturday, taking down Luther College, 3-1, in a non-conference duel. 3-0 on the weekend, UMHB Volleyball is riding a 12-match win streak and headed in a good direction as a trip to Abilene for contests against McMurry (Thursday) and Hardin-Simmons (Saturday) is next on the slate.
Gacayan leads UMHB Football in receiving vs SRSU
For the first time this season, UMHB’s leading receiver was Christopher Gacayan, a true freshman from Axtell, Texas. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound standout was pretty impressive in his pass-catching ability, with four receptions for 54 yards, the majority of which came on a 42-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
That reception set up a rushing touchdown from Ozias Wright as UMHB took a 37-13 lead. We had not seen a whole lot of Gacayan in the previous five games, though he did catch a touchdown pass against Texas Lutheran a week prior. The Crusaders now have yet another reliable receiving target, which adds to the depth at the tight end position. And that’s always a positive, especially with a player like Gacayan, who is just six games into his college career.
On Tap on Monday:
Men’s Golf: ASC Preview (Round 1),Granbury, Texas
Women’s Golf: Golfweek D-III Fall Invitational (Round 2), Miramar Beach, Florida