Uploaded: Monday, September 17, 2012, 11:11 AM
Menlo College women go OT for big win
|It was only fitting that the 2nd annual Menlo Invitational would end on an overtime goal by the Oaks, capping off what was truly a remarkable weekend of soccer for the host team.
Menlo (6-2) freshman Jocelyn Aguilar clipped the back of the net 5:30 into the first OT, as the Oaks came away with a big 3-2 win on Sunday against a Southern Oregon (4-3-1) squad that was receiving top 25 votes earlier in the week.
St. Thomas University held off a late Marymount College charge to hold on for a 3-2 victory in the day's earlier game, meaning the wins by both Menlo and STU matched Westmont College as the three teams that finished the tournament at 2-0, while William Jessup, Marymount, and Southern Oregon ended the weekend winless in two chances.
Deadlocked at 2 into the first OT, Aguilar ended the match with a second-chance effort right in front of the net. The final play began when junior midfielder Valerie Comstock and the rest of the Oaks set up for a corner just over halfway into the extra frame. Comstock's soaring liner bounded right in front of the Raiders' goal, which then was headed past SOU keeper Katelyn Allen. Fortunately for Southern Oregon, it had a defender patrolling the empty net who was able to knock away the potential winner. The rebound, however, came right to Aguilar, who took care of the rest in Menlo's dramatic win.
"It felt amazing, especially since it was only my second game this year and second game at home," Aguilar said on her match-ending goal. "We all just stuck together today and we wanted it. We really wanted it."
Aguilar's winning score officially put a ribbon on the Oaks' riveting comeback. Menlo initially got down 2-0 within the affair's first 15 minutes, after SOU's Sydney Paulsen and Julie Zamzow each put the ball in the back of the net.
Nearly four minutes after the Raiders' second score, the Oaks responded. Senior Alison Hammond hooked up with junior Natalie Ingram for Menlo's first goal of the match with 28:44 remaining in the opening half. Ingram found the back of the net for her team-leading seventh goal of the 2012 campaign.
Just 15 minutes into the second half, the Oaks' Erika Savela produced the equalizer. The senior from Stockholm, Sweden chipped in her sixth score of the young season and her third of the Invitational to knot up the tilt at 2.
Not to be lost in the thrilling action was the outstanding performance from Menlo's junior keeper Whitney Galindo. The native of San Mateo stopped an onslaught of 13 Raider shots in stifling Southern Oregon time and again.
"Holy cow, Whitney Galindo," remarked Menlo head coach Scott Myers. "Certainly today she helped us be successful. Save after save after save and she is there, saving things that most people don't. I couldn't be any more proud of her. She is a successful young goalkeeper and she is only going to get better as we go on."
As far as the game is concerned, Myers was well aware of its overall significance.
"First off credit goes to Southern Oregon, they played a heck of a great game," Myers remarked. "It definitely made this victory that much more successful because of the quality of level they play at. On our end we stuck to what we had to do and definitely earned the victory. It's a win for the program that has been a long time coming, and we are just going to continue to work hard and build off of this."
With the win, the Oaks now have surpassed last year's win total with six.
First-year Menlo head coach Mark Speckman received an added bonus for his first home victory as the Oaks romped to a 56-6 triumph over visiting Occidental College on Saturday.
The 56 points by Menlo (3-1) matched its highest point total since Nov. 1, 2003, when the Oaks defeated the University Puget Sound, 56-25. That just so happened to be Menlo's last winning season.
What's even more impressive about the historical showing is that the Oaks did it all in the first half, as neither team lit up the scoreboard in the final 30 minutes.
Right from the get go it was evident that this afternoon would belong to Menlo. The Oaks scored touchdowns on four of the first five possessions, and that includef two of Occidental's drives.
First it was senior quarterback Matt Pelasasa tossing an 11-yard TD strike to junior Thomas Reynolds on the contest's opening possession. Menlo marched right down the field to jump out to the 7-0 advantage on what was a seven play, 63-yard scoring drive.
On the very next play from scrimmage, the Tigers' first chance on offense, Menlo scored again. Junior defensive lineman Camyar Meshkaty forced a fumble on Oxy tailback Austin Cheadle, which was then scooped up by Menlo's Angel Jimenez, who waltzed 35 yards into the end zone for the rapid 14-0 advantage with not even five minutes gone by.
On the Tigers' next possession, a lengthy Occidental drive came to a screeching halt after a Rex Hawkins sack pushed the Tigers from the Menlo 38 to the Oaks' 46. Oxy was forced to punt, but Menlo freshman Cooper Harris raced in to block Marc Kuzbari's kick, which was then picked up by Menlo's Jake Fohn. He took it 60 yards the other way for the Oaks' third touchdown of the first quarter.
Menlo added a fourth first-period TD with Pelasasa's 23-yard heave to senior wideout Robert Adan.
The second quarter proved to be just as favorable as the first, with Menlo striking for four more TDs and 28 more points. After Occidental punched in their only points of the afternoon with a Tommy Edwards 15-yard scoring strike to senior wide receiver Matthew Tuckness, the Oaks were at it again.
Menlo was initially stalled for the first time in its past eight possessions, dating to last Saturday's 35-point second half in which the Oaks scored a TD on all five of their second-half chances. Menlo was forced to punt but, after the Tigers' Casey Dudley muffed the attempt, the Oaks' Daniel Stevenson pounced on the loose ball to give his team another offensive opportunity. Menlo capitalized just three plays later when Pelasasa hooked up with senior tight end Devin Young for a 24-yard score to give the Oaks a commanding 35-6 lead.
The touchdown was Pelasasa's third of the game. He completed all nine of his pass attempts, throwing for 119 yards in less than two complete quarters.
Menlo continued to excel in the rushing department with another impressive ground performance. The Oaks ran for 277 total yards and now average 267 rushing yards in their three wins this year. Freshman Brandon Bell led the charge with 104 on the ground, including a 57-yard touchdown run late in the second.
The Menlo defense and special teams made their mark, as well, accounting for half of Menlo's scoring output. Aside from Jimenez's and Fohn's fumble recoveries in the first quarter, junior wide receiver Michael Alexander returned a punt 75 yards for his team-leading fifth TD of the season, and senior defensive back Wade Hawkins, with his 35-yard interception return, stamped his name into the scoring fiesta as well.
The Oaks will look to make it three straight as they match up with visiting University of La Verne on Saturday at noon.
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