The Highlands Cowgirls picked up their fourth win of the season only after a hard-fought, physical battle with visiting Regis on a balmy Sunday afternoon at Perkins Stadium.
Each side — particularly Regis in the early going — made deep advances into enemy territory only to be turned away by gritty back-line defense. The match went scoreless until the 70th minute, when Krista Mashak took a pass from Arianna Strickland and beat Ellen Augsburger for a goal, Mashak’s third of the season.
There would be no more scoring.
Mashak, the Cowgirls’ leading scorer a season ago, matched her 2009 goal total with Sunday’s game-winning shot. Mashak, Julissa Rodriguez and Tierra Saban each have three goals to date to lead Highlands.
With three fouls in the first eight minutes and seven in the first 20, the game’s physical tone was established early. Three yellow cards were issued to NMHU and one to the Rangers (6-4).
Winning goalkeeper Amanda Rose Johnson earned the shutout and her second win of the season after turning five shots away. Augsburger had four saves and also went the distance.
Highlands improved to 4-3-1 overall and 2-1-1 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play under second-year head coach Justin Wagar. The Cowgirls were the seventh ranked team in the NCAA Division II Central Region going into the weekend.
NMHU, which recently tied No. 3 nationally ranked Metro State College of Denver, lost this past Thursday at Adams State in Alamosa, Colo.
Adams State’s Jessica Hellweg had the only goal in that 1-0 verdict, played in rainy conditions in Alamosa.
Johnson and Shannon Delarosbil split time at keeper for NMHU, with each recording one save. Hellweg zigzagged and got a shot past Delarosbil’s left side in the 72nd minute; it was Hellweg’s fifth goal of the season.
NMHU plays at Fort Lewis in Durango, Colo., this week to continue the RMAC schedule.