Westmont Men's Soccer (1-1-0) secured their first victory of the 2013 season at home Saturday evening with a 4-2 win over the Poets of Whittier College. Fans of both teams witnessed a feisty and exciting affair, as the match featured six goals, seven assists, three yellow cards, and a slew of flashy plays.
The Warriors came roaring out offensively, dispensing shots from forwards Nana Ayken and Cody Howen, and another from midfielder Jonathan Yeeles, all within the first ten minutes of the match. The men also had scoring chances in the thirteenth and twenty-fourth minutes of the match, set up by technical passing from Yeeles and midfielder Tanner Wolf.
However, it was in the twenty-sixth minute that the Warriors tallied their first goal of the contest. Akyen provided a patiently timed through ball to forward Cody Howen, who then floated the ball across the pitch to Yeeles for the score. Just three minutes later, Westmont hit pay dirt again.
Yeeles directed a through ball between a group of Poets that enabled Akyen to poke the ball over the outstretched hands of Whittier goalkeeper Jorge Rivas.
In the second-half, Whittier began to battle back. The Poets' additional offensive pressure led to a defensive handball in Westmont's 18-yard box that was widely disputed by the Warriors – including Akyen who picked up a yellow card defending his teammates. Seconds later, the penalty kick was converted by Francis Maxwell.
Westmont Assistant Coach Johnny Whallon shared that this moment was a rallying point for the Warriors. Said Whallon, "It was a questionable call, but that's soccer. We received a bad call, and suddenly, instead of folding and letting anger get the best of us, we went back to our attacking schematic and put in two more. That's a huge step forward for us."
The final two goals for the Warriors came less than two minutes after the penalty, and were twenty-seven seconds apart.
The first capped off a masterful display of teamwork as Tanner Wolf scored off of a double assist from defender Isaac Veenstra and Howen. The second was a converted finesse shot by Howen, assisted by a long lob from Yeeles.
Whallon specifically commended Howen for his full body of work (one goal, two assists), as well as the spine of the Warrior formation. "Our guys throughout the middle were active and fluid - Marcos (Lopez) and Mo (Muhammad Mehai) in the back, Blake (Joyner) and Tanner (Wolf) in the middle, Yeeles up front and Nana on top of him. Also, Andrew Singer did very well in goal today. Ultimately, the core of our team was strong and that will be an important quality for us going forward."
Whallon was also impressed by the distribution of goals, with all four coming from different players. Whallon noted, "We want to have a group comprised of players who are all a legitimate scoring threat. This is what we spent much of last week working on."
The Warrior attack proved to be balanced and powerful, as the team finished the contest with a total of 18 shots – and many more opportunities.
Additionally, Whallon pointed out that all five of the freshman on the roster received valuable playing time, with forwards Rodrigo Diaz-Valdes and Austin Lack involved in late scoring chances.
Overall, the team looked revamped after their disappointing home opener last week against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Westmont will look to continue the offensive firepower next Saturday when they host Bethesda at four o'clock at Thorrington Field.