No. 2 Mustangs record seventh shutout in 2-0 win over UTPB

Goals by junior forward Christian Okeke and junior midfielder Kyle Baccus carried the No. 2 Midwestern State men's soccer team to a 2-0 shutout victory over UT-Permian Basin Monday evening at MSU Soccer Field.

Midwestern State (14-0-1) recorded its seventh shutout of the season and fifth in the last six matches as the Mustangs limited UT-Permian Basin (4-13-0) to just five shot attempts and two shots on goal. Midwestern posted 33 shots with 14 on goal, the second most for the squad this season. Okeke and senior forward Albert Rodriguez each recorded three shots on goal to lead MSU.

Midway through the first half, Midwestern State struck first as Okeke netted his fifth goal of the season off a cross from senior defender Ben Clarvis, who recorded his team-best seventh assist of the year. After the cross by Clarvis, Okeke collected the ball on the right side of the box before taking a shot into the top left corner of the net to put the Mustangs in front in the 24th minute.

With UTPB looking to score the equalizer, the Mustangs prevented the Falcons from evening the match as Midwestern was awarded a penalty kick in the 84th minute after a handball was called. Baccus lined up for the kick but senior goalkeeper Justin Bryant made one of his 12 saves of the evening to keep it at 1-0. However, the ball went off Bryant's hands and Baccus was able to collect it a few yards out before firing into the net for a 2-0 contest with just over six minutes to play.

"It wasn't our best performance but we stayed the course and didn't give up a lot," said head coach Doug Elder. "We could tell they were just counterattacking, trying to sit in and counter, which is why we created so many chances."

Midwestern earned several scoring opportunities throughout Monday's match, holding a 13-1 advantage in corner kicks, but Bryant's play in goal prevented many good looks by the Mustangs from entering the net.

"The keeper played well for them," Elder said. "He made a bunch of good saves. It seemed like every time we hit one, it would be blocked by one of their six guys in the box. They played six or seven inside the 18 which is good defensively, but it gives us an opportunity to get 33 shots. They played hard and they didn't quit. I give credit to UTPB. I thought they were a lot better than their record tonight."

For the Mustangs, junior goalkeeper Brice Gardner (5-0-0) tallied his fourth shutout Monday, having allowed just one goal this season.

Midwestern State will close out the regular season this weekend at MSU Soccer Field when the Mustangs play host to rivals West Texas A&M and Eastern New Mexico. MSU first faces WT on Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on ENMU on Sunday at 1 p.m. for Senior Day.

"This weekend will be tough," Elder said. "West Texas is a good team and we struggled at Eastern in overtime. We have our work cut out for us this weekend. I didn't think West Texas played all that great the other night and I know they can play better and will play better. Friday should be a great game. If no one has come to a game, this would be the one to come to because it's a big rival and it's always been a real barnburner here."