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TMC Notebook: TMC’s focus shifts

Mustangs begin preparations for the postseason

Posted: October 30, 2010 11:11 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2010 11:11 p.m.

It’s all about the postseason now for three teams at The Master’s College.

Men’s and women’s cross country will be participating in the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship next Saturday, and women’s soccer opens GSAC Tournament play this week.

Only two teams have won GSAC titles at TMC — 2003 baseball and 2009 men’s soccer.

Men’s cross country could make it three, while women’s soccer looks to move on from narrowly missing a championship of its own.

Cross Country

Heading into next Saturday’s GSAC Championships, head coach Zach Schroeder said the door is certainly open, especially with the 1-2-3 punch of Jeff Jackson, John Gilberston and Anthony Pizzo, which swept the top three spots at the Biola Invitational on Oct. 23.

“The truth is, all three of those guys on any day can really lead the team,” he said. “I think the big success we are having is from Josiah Downer and Nathan Seyler just really stepping up big at Biola. That’s what we have to have is a No. 4 and No. 5 (runner) that wants to win more than anyone else’s 4 and 5.

“Those five guys have an equal share in the team’s score,” he added. “It doesn’t rest on one person’s shoulders. We are only as strong as the top five guys.”

The TMC men are currently ranked No. 1 in the GSAC standings and No. 15 in the NAIA heading into the conference championship, which will be held at Woodward Park in Fresno.

The women are not ranked in the NAIA, but big things are still expected from freshmen Hannah Kellerman and Hayley Parkinson.

Schroeder is keeping their workouts regimented to peak Saturday and qualify for the NAIA Championships on Nov. 20.
“To do that out of our conference as a freshman is a very special thing,” he said. “If you qualify out of the GSAC, you’re chasing down All-American spots at nationals. We have a very competitive conference.”

On the men’s side, there are two other GSAC schools ranked in the NAIA top 25 (Vanguard, 19th; and Azusa Pacific, 21st). Three more are ranked on the women’s side (Biola, second; Azusa Pacific, third; and Pt. Loma Nazarene, seventh).

Men’s Soccer
Coming off the program’s first GSAC championship, TMC entered the 2010 season with high expectations.

But with a 4-2 loss to Biola on Saturday, the Mustangs fell short of those expectations and will miss the GSAC Tournament with a ninth place finish in the standings.

“Basically, our season is over,” said TMC head coach Jim Rickard. “If we won today, we were in fifth. If we lost, we were in ninth place. Only the top eight teams make the playoffs.”

Regarding the potential of a trip to the NCCAA Tournament, Rickard said it is unlikely his team would make the trip.

“I’d have to talk to my athletic director. We have an institutional rule that you have to be .500, and we are one game below .500. Right now, I would say ‘No.’ No matter how good we play, we can’t get the results. It’s hard to justify spending
$18,000-$20,000 to go to Florida, and there’s no guarantee of doing anything different.”

TMC forward Joel Peluffo missed the team’s last two games with a possible abdominal strain.

The Mustangs also lost 1-0 to Westmont on Tuesday.

In total, TMC lost five games this season by one goal, including a 2-1 defeat in double overtime to Fresno Pacific on Sept. 29 that Rickard said was backbreaker for his team’s confidence.

Women’s Soccer

TMC entered Saturday with a chance to leapfrog GSAC first-place Azusa Pacific for the program’s first ever conference championship.

But a few early miscues doomed the Mustangs, who were upset 2-1 by sixth-place Biola on Saturday.

“This has been a special team. A lot of things have lined up correctly,” said TMC head coach Curtis Lewis. “This was a bitter one to swallow (Saturday) because we were better than Biola. To lose a GSAC title on a penalty kick is tough to swallow.”

The Mustangs (15-2-1, 8-2), ranked No. 4 in the NAIA, outshot Biola 21-7 in the game. But the Eagles scored two first-half goals, including the game-winner on a penalty kick in the 39th minute, and pulled back to focused on heavy defense, Lewis said.

TMC assumes the No. 2 seed in the GSAC tournament, and will play No. 7 Biola in the first round at 2 p.m. Tuesday at The Master’s College.

It will be a virtual immediate rematch for the Mustangs, who beaten Westmont 2-1 on Tuesday behind goals from Robyn Estrada and Emily Bruton.

“If we play like we did (Saturday), we will be fine,” Lewis said. “We played probably the best technically sound game we’ve played all season long. We just gave up a PK, and we had bad communication in the first 10 minutes.

“The GSAC Tournament is to get us in the right position gamewise to stay in shape so when Nov. 20 rolls around,” Lewis added, referring to postseason play, “we are able to do what we want to do in the NAIA.”

Men’s Golf
The Mustangs host the TMC Fall Invitational beginning today at Robinson Ranch Golf Course.

The 54-hole tournament will run through Tuesday.

It will be the Mustangs’ first event since winning the National Christian College Athletic Association championship on Oct. 12 in Panama City Beach, Fla.

There will be 12 teams competing in the tournament, including California Baptist, Pt. Loma Nazarene, Cal State San Marcos, Holy Names and the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, said TMC head coach Jason Semelsberger.

Women’s Volleyball
The Mustangs appear to be on the outside of the playoff picture.

With four matches left in the regular season, TMC is four matches behind eighth-place Westmont, a team the Mustangs beat 3-2 on Oct. 5.

TMC lost to NAIA No. 10 Concordia 3-0 on Tuesday and 3-0 to Hope International on Saturday and will play sixth-ranked California Baptist on Tuesday.


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