SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Picturesque goals from senior Cody Howen and freshman Austin Lack propelled Westmont men's soccer to another victory as the Warriors soared over the Sunbirds of Fresno Pacific University Saturday, adding another win to their current streak of four in what head coach Dave Wolf called "one of the windiest days" he's seen at Thorrington Field.
Howen's goal came just five and a half minutes into the game. Senior Nana Ayken received a pass and sent a scorching pass 20 yards up field where Cody Howen tapped a bender of a shot safely to the right of Sunbirds' goalkeeper Andrew Luis.
Lack's goal came in the seventy-sixth minute of the game when fellow freshman Matt Lariviere pulled off a beautiful play. Lariviere utilized a rarely seen heel-tapped through ball that positioned the ball perfectly up field where Lack outran a defender, corralled the ball, a coerced a shot past Luis.
Wolf had this to say about the sequence from the two freshman roommates. "It was huge. Undoubtedly it turned out to be the critical moment of the game. To get two young guys linking up for such a decisive moment is very encouraging. Up to this point, our freshman have mostly been energy guys. However, that play was not comprised of only energy; it was completed with a touch of class. It was fantastic. I'm happy for those two guys. They've worked really hard and came up clutch."
The Warriors were only able to rattle off nine shots over the course of the game. However, the men made the most of their limited offensive chances, as six of the nine shots were on goal, with two finding the back of the net.
The Sunbirds tallied 16 shots overall, but only put three on goal, converting only once in the seventy-ninth minute.
Twelve of Fresno Pacific's 16 shots materialized in the second half. The additional pressure certainly tested the Warrior defense late in the game.
Wolf stated that he expected this game to be a challenge defensively – especially as the game progressed. "We had a lot to do defensively at the end of the game. Today was going to be hard because of how much the guys had to exert on Wednesday (against Marymount). I felt that we were better (than Wednesday) with the ball in the first half, and that was encouraging. Certainly, the last 30 minutes were nerve-racking, and not very pretty – it was just surviving until the end."
Durability has been a theme over the last three games for Westmont. If anything, it's a testament to this team's resolve, chemistry, and will.
"Finding a way to win games has been a struggle for us the past couple of seasons and this group has really turned that around so far. That's a great quality to have. I can't exactly describe what it means and what it looks like, but you don't have to. You just believe that you can find a way to win the game. It's definitely evident that the chemistry piece is really coming into play this season," admired Wolf.
The Warriors look to continue their success as they head to San Marcos for a contest with Cal State San Marcos. That game will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24.