SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Westmont Women's Soccer (14-0-3, 8-0-2 GSAC) secured the number two seed in next week's Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament when they defeated No. 10 Vanguard (14-3, 7-3) by a score of 1-0 on Saturday at Thorrington Field.
Tiffany Dimaculangan scored the sole goal in the contest in the 47th minute. The junior forward fired off a shot from 20 yards out that bounced off the goalkeeper toward Jenny Martinez who was near the left post. Martinez passed the ball back to Dimaculangan who fired off another shot, this time hitting a defender and returning to her. Undeterred, Dimaculangan shot again, this time finding the back of the net for the game winning goal.
"I thought the team played outstanding," said Westmont head coach Kristi Kiely. "It took us a few minutes to get into it, but for the majority of the game they were playing quite well. You want to honor your seniors on Senior Day and I thought the way we played did just that.
"Our midfield - Alison (Hensley), Brooke (Lillywhite) and Tiffany - started winning all the challenges and dictated the play. Jenny Martinez also had a great day today. I thought we put it all together today."
Defensively, Amanda Diesen was called upon to cover All-American Jordan Davidson. Diesen limited Davidson to just two shots, only one of which was on goal.
"Amanda did a fantastic job," said Kiely. "Jordan is a great player and I thought Amanda did really well on her."
Senior goalkeeper Lindsey Smith tallied three saves on the day on her way to her seventh complete-game shutout of the season. She also has six shared shutouts with Loren Dorr.
Before the game, seven seniors - all of whom have been with the program for four years - were honored for the contributions they have made to the Warrior program. The honorees were Denae Crump, Diesen, Hensley, Martinez, Caroline Moe, Missy Robertson and Smith.
"The seven of them sat in my living room four years ago this spring and I challenge them with the vision for the program," said Kiely. "The vision is one of a community demanding much from each other on the field yet loving each other in outrageous ways off of it. They bought in and now here we are four years later as a National contender."
As a result of the win, Westmont has earned a bye in the first round of the GSAC Tournament and will host a semifinal game on Friday at 2:00 p.m. The opponent will be determined on Tuesday in first round play. Vanguard is the favorite to make a return trip to the Montecito campus.
Concordia, ranked at number eight, earned the number one seed and the regular season championship when it defeated host Arizona Christian 7-0 on Saturday afternoon. The Eagles also enjoy a bye in the first round and will host the lowest-remaining seed in the other semifinal game after Tuesday's first round action. The championship game will be played on Friday, November 15 at the highest remaining seed after the semifinals.
The winner of the GSAC Tournament earns the conference's automatic bid into the NAIA National Championship. In addition to the GSAC's automatic qualifier, however, three teams from the GSAC are likely to receive at-large berths in the national championship regardless of the outcome of GSAC Tournament play.
The Golden State Athletic Conference boasts four teams ranked in the top-15 of the NAIA National Coaches' Poll. In addition to Westmont, Concordia and Vanguard, The Master's comes in at number 15. None of the GSAC's top four teams have experienced a loss to any out-of-conference opponent.
Unlike every other NAIA sport, however, the soccer at-large berths are determined by a team's ranking on the Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI), rather than on the coaches' poll. The index takes into account factors such as home, away and neutral site records; records against top-25 teams; opponent's win-loss record (strength of schedule); and the coaches' polls. In the latest MRPI, Westmont ranked second, Vanguard third, The Master's 11th and Concordia 13th.
As a result of the strong MRPI ratings by conference teams, all of the top four could host opening round games in the NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship on November 23.