SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Westmont (15-1-4) goalkeeper Lindsey Smith answered the call when the season was on the line in the Warriors' NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship Opening Round game at Thorrington Field on Saturday.
After regulation and two periods of overtime, the game with Westminster of Utah (11-7-3) was officially declared a 2-2 tie. However, a tie doesn't determine who advances to the second round - nor does it determine whose season comes to an end. That determination came in the form of a shootout in which Smith produced back-to-back saves as Westmont players went four-for-four on their own penalty kick attempts to secure a 4-1 win in the shootout.
"Lindsey was a world class keeper today," said Westmont head coach Kristi Kiely. "Her saves in the penalty kicks were quite excellent.
"We didn't find ourselves in a good position, coming from behind twice in one day," said Kiely. "I didn't think that we were very sharp defensively today. But, I was so proud of the players for their ability to come from behind. I really appreciate our fans because they helped our success on the day and we definitely felt all the support."
Lexi Tucker of Westminster opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when she receive the ball just inside the top of the box, then worked herself free and fired the ball into the right side of the net.
Less than three minutes later, Westmont's Kelsey Steck received a cross from Courtney Stonesifer and put the ball away to tie the contest at one.
In the 48th minute, the Griffins went ahead again on another score by Tucker. Receiving a pass from Brianna Wilson, Tucker shot from the top of the box to give Westminster a 2-1 lead.
It would be another 30 minutes before the Warriors would find the equalizer. Brooke Lillywhite sent a through ball to Sofia Smati on the left side. Smati, one-on-one with the Griffin keeper, launched a ball past her outstretched arms and into the side netting near the post.
"Sophia's goal was fantastic and came at such a clutch time," noted Kiely.
In the shootout period, Alison Hensley completed the first attempt against the Griffins' keeper, putting the Warriors up 1-0. Carissa Cooper followed suit scoring on the first attempt for the Griffins. That brought up Jenny Martinez for Westmont who also found the net.
The tide turned when Tucker's attempt was blocked by Smith. Westmont's Christine Adams put the Warriors up 3-1 on her attempt, bring up the Griffin's Miranda Minor. Again, a diving Smith stopped the ball from reaching the goal. Freshman Grace Lemley drew the honor to shoot fourth and she took advantage of the opportunity to clinch the shootout victory and advance the Warriors to Orange Beach, Alabama.
The Warriors will take on No. 15 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) in the second round of the playoffs on Monday, December 2. Martin Methodist (16-5-1) advanced by defeating Trinity International (Ill.) on Saturday by a score of 4-1.