SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Four Warriors – four shots on goal – four goals – one more guaranteed game. The resounding melody of the day for Westmont Men's Soccer (11-6) was undoubtedly offensive efficiency, eventually culminating in new life.
For the third time this season (and for the second game in a row) Westmont defeated the Vanguard Lions (8-8-1), this time by a score of 4-2. Once again, the offense was diverse, with scores provided by senior forward Rick McCarthy, junior midfielder Cody Howen, senior defender Marcos Lopez, and senior midfielder Sean Siemens.
The Warriors' first postseason victory since 2009 was widely attributed to the team's multiplicity on offense. "That's been us this year. We spread the ball around," declared Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. We didn't pass the ball tremendously well today, but once again, we had players deliver individual moments.
"There were a lot of similarities to our (previous) game on Saturday," continued Wolf. "We went down at about the same time. But this time, we had a pretty quick bounce back, with three goals in the first half after their initial goal. Overall, I was very pleased with our resiliency."
Despite only attempting six total shots on the day, Westmont verified that more is not always better – Vanguard finished with 14 shots, seven of which were on target.
Finding themselves in a jam just 9:46 into the contest, the Warriors turned on the heat, scoring three goals over the course of the next 30 minutes of the first half.
At about the 20 minute mark, in what has become his traditional fashion, an unmarked McCarthy sprinted in from 24 yards out, soared over several Lion defenders, and headed an Isaac Veenstra corner kick into the frame to tie the game at one, rectifying the Warriors' early mistake. McCarthy now stands at five total goals on the year.
Just seven minutes later, Howen earned Westmont the lead. Using his finesse, Howen dribbled through three Lions and blazed a shot up and to the right of Vanguard's goalkeeper for his fourth goal of the season.
To make it three's company for the half, newly crowned All-Golden State Athletic Conference honoree Marcos Lopez added a penalty kick in the 41st minute that was drawn by freshman forward Rodrigo Diaz-Valdes' tenacity and grit.
Three and a half minutes into the second half, Vanguard made it a viable match again, scoring on a header. However, in the 70th minute, Siemens, Westmont's proverbial sparkplug, all but insured a victory after successfully converting a tightly squeezed through-ball from Howen.
"What our team accomplished today by beating a team for the third time in the same season is really great. That is very hard to do. Also, add the fact that their season was on the line, which adds another dimension of challenge to the match, makes the result doubly impressive in my mind," avowed Wolf. "The belief system is growing, and we'll need that to go win on the road, and to once again continue our season."
Westmont will travel to La Mirada Saturday to combat the Eagles of Biola in the semifinals of the GSAC Tournament. Just like today that game kicks off at 2:00 p.m. General admission will be $10, and student tickets are $5.