Play of the Day: Oaks defense protects 2-1 lead before Erika Savela adds a key insurance goal inside the final minute.
Two Erika Savela scores and a three-point showing from Natalie Ingram helped propel the Lady Oaks to their fourth straight victory, in this afternoon's non-conference tilt against Northwest Christian University (1-4-2) at Wunderlich Field. Menlo's 3-1 win boosts their record to an impressive 7-2, as the Oaks continue to roll through the early stages of the 2012 campaign.
"I give credit to Northwest Christian for coming in and imposing their style of play, but I got to hand it to our team for working hard and being patient," said Oaks Head Coach Scott Myers on today's victory. "We are continuing to work hard and are trying to improve on simple principles learned earlier in the season. We need to finish on more opportunities, but I do see us moving in the right direction."
Two Menlo first half goals and a pair of brilliant Whitney Galindo saves helped set the tempo on this afternoon's clash. A shade over nine minutes into the affair, the Oaks' Jocelyn Aguilar set up Natalie Ingram who connected for her eighth score of the year and a 1-0 Menlo lead. Ingram would go on to add an assist on an Erika Savela goal two thirds into the first stanza, as the senior from Stockholm, Sweden tallied her seventh score of the season.
Sandwiched in and around Menlo's first period pair of net finders, were two clutch saves by the aforementioned Gailndo. The junior from nearby San Mateo had the tall task of halting not one, but two Katelyn Partridge attempts from in close, after Partridge had already alluded the last line of Menlo's defense. Overall Galindo ended with four total saves, allowing just one second half goal.
The Lady Oaks 2-0 halftime margin would prove to be short lived, as the Beacons chopped their deficit in half just five and a half minutes into the second stanza. A Northwest Christian corner would eventually find its way onto the foot of freshman midfielder Nikki Webster, who then rattled it into the back of the net for her first score of the season. In fact the goal was the Beacon's first in the last six matches, a span that dates all the way back to September 1st in a season opening 4-0 win over Simpson University.
Now with the count at 2-1, the Lady Oaks defense went to work in preventing a potential Northwest Christian equalizer. Menlo would surrender just four second half Beacon shots, and inside the tilt's final minute the Oaks officially put the match on ice.
In a last ditch effort to knot the score at 2-2, Northwest Christian pushed up on the attack, leaving a 1-on-1 battle with Menlo's Erika Savela and the Beacon's Miranda Cruz on the opposite end of the pitch. Savela received the ball, dangled around Cruz, and beat keeper Melody Bliss to effectively seal the deal on an Oaks victory with her second goal of the match to bring her in a dead heat with Ingram for the team lead.
Menlo will pack their bags and hit the road to Southern California for a two-game road swing this weekend. The Lady Oaks will take on Bethesda University on Friday, September 28th (a rematch of a game won 10-0 by Menlo on August 28th), and then will head to Soka University on Sunday, September 30th.