LA MIRADA — Makenna Yarbor's mind was uncluttered and her collegiate history barren of any offensive productivity whatsoever. But her desire epitomized that of her relentless team, which made her unlikely golden goal considerably more believable Wednesday night.
Yarbor, a junior who typically plays defense, was shifted to center midfield by Vanguard University Coach Randy Dodge for a Golden State Athletic Conference women's soccer home clash with No. 15-ranked The Master's. Coming off the bench, she popped a header over the Mustangs' goalkeeper with 24 seconds left in the second overtime period. The tally, the first of Yarbor's collegiate career — a career that had produced just four shots (two on goal) in her previous 39 appearances — propelled the No. 6-ranked Lions (11-1, 4-1 in conference) to a 1-0 triumph, their fourth straight conference victory. It also ended a streak of 199-plus minutes without a goal at their makeshift home field at Biola University.
Vanguard, which has five regular-season games remaining, will play its first game on its campus field on Saturday against No. 23-ranked GSAC visitor Biola at 1 p.m. Instillation of field turf had rendered Vanguard's on-campus facility unusable for practices or games all fall.
The win keeps the Lions in the GSAC title hunt with No. 12-ranked Concordia (4-0-1), No. 3-ranked Westmont (3-0-2) and TMC (11-3, 3-2) and may have solidified an at-large berth into the NAIA national tournament, Dodge said.
"It was probably the biggest gift of the season," Yarbor said of the goal that was set up by a booming through ball from near midfield by senior Megan Hill. Hill's one-touch blast of a ball cleared out of the Vanguard attacking zone, bounced about five yards inside the 18-yard box, toward the goal. That's where Yarbor, a high-scoring forward noted for scoring off her head while at El Cajon Christian High, said she merely flicked on her scoring instincts.
"It was nothing new to me," said Yarbor, who became the 11th Lion with at least one goal this season. "I saw it bounce and I just put it in the back of the net. I was so tired of playing overtime, I just wanted to get it over with. I saw a defender in front of me and I had to jump up to put it in the net."
Yarbor, who said coming off the bench gave her a fresh mind and fresh legs, and playing a new position helped her keep things simple and not over think the game, said the magnitude of the goal was not lost on her.
"It sank in before it even went in the goal," Yarbor said. "I started crying the moment it went in because I couldn't believe that I scored."
Said Dodge: "[Yarbor] changed the game for us the whole entire time she was in. And she got a great goal.
"It was a big win," Dodge said. "The girls really proved a lot to me today, because I rate The Master's always really high and we were really good. We were hard to every ball. We tell our girls over and over again to fly the ball into a corner, fly the ball deep in behind [the defense], because it's trouble. And we were hungry and we went after it [for the winning goal]."
The Lions' hunger was nearly matched by the Mustangs, who lost for the second time in three games, after beginning the season 10-0. Vanguard posted a 17-15 advantage in shots and wound up with an 8-7 edge in corner kicks, though TMC held a 5-2 advantage in the latter at halftime.
Junior All-American goalkeeper Lauren Terry made six saves to preserve the shutout, the seventh of the season and the second in two games for the Lions, who have now outscored opponents, 51-7.
Senior forward Jordan Davidson, an All-American who just returned from an injury that Dodge initially feared was season-ending, had six shots, including one that caromed off the crossbar and two others that prompted saves from TMC keeper Ilyssa Espiritu (eight saves).
Junior Jennifer Martin had five shots, including a free kick from 23 yards out on the left wing that she bent off the crossbar in the first overtime.
Vanguard freshman Kelsea Arenado sparkled on defense, while sophomore defender Ashley McCutcheon chased down a would-be Mustangs goal to clear it just before it reached the goal line late in the first half.