MONTECITO, Calif. - Goals by Katie Stella and Isabelle Berthoud resulted in a 2-0 win for Westmont Women's Soccer (1-2) over Vanguard (2-1) in the Golden State Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
"I definitely saw a lot of improvement from the last two games we played in terms of connecting in the final third, getting shots and scoring goals," said Westmont head coach Jenny Jaggard. That was the huge emphasis this week in training – getting confidence in front of the goal, taking lots of shots and taking risks to try and score. I was happy to see that they capitalized and got a couple today."
Stella's goal came in the 33rd minute of play. Sadie Hill served a ball into the box from just inside the midfield stripe near the left-hand touch line. An attempt was made to clear the ball by a Vanguard defender, but it came instead to the feet of Katie Stella who deftly poked it into the far corner.
Berthoud's goal was scored in the 71st minute off an assist from Reese Davidson.
"It was one of the prettiest plays we had all game," assessed Jaggard. "Izzy was making a great timed-run forward and Reese connected with her on a beautiful ball. It was an absolutely tremendous volley finish. I haven't seen a goal that good in a while."
Davidson sent a ball in from around 45-yards out, delivering it to the top of the 18-yard box. Berthoud flew past her defender and fired it past the keeper for the score.
The shutout was the 23rd of goalkeeper Gabi Haw's career. Haw had a spectacular save in the second minute of play to keep the game scoreless. A throw in from the left touch line was deflected toward the net by a Lion's player. Haw grabbed the ball before it cleared the goal line, holding it out for the assistant referee to see it was still in play.
"It is awesome that Gabi was able to get a shutout on senior day," expressed Jaggard.
"I don't think we started as well as I was hoping," acknowledge the second-year coach, "Vanguard had some pretty good momentum in those first few minutes. That is something I want to continue to work with the team on.
"What Vanguard does super well is capitalize on corner kicks and crosses into the box. They are very dangerous in there.
"I've been concerned about that all year. From a defensive standpoint, we have been shaky at getting into the box and getting organized and getting good clearances. That has been another emphasis in training this week – figuring out who owns every role in terms of defending and defining each player's space that they must win the ball out of. It was absolutely loads better and I think we can continue to get better."
Jaggard was particularly pleased with the defensive play of her holding midfielder Savannah Scott.
"Savannah cleaned up a lot of the messes today," reflected Jaggard. "She had a tremendous game, making some tackles that were phenomenal. I'm not sure how she got around on some of those defensive plays."
Prior to the game, Westmont honored four seniors for their contributions to Westmont Women's Soccer.
Haw was noted as a two-year captain and who leads by example on the field, in the classroom and in her faith.
"We will miss your crazy goalkeeper skills, your gentle leadership style, your big smile, and the way you always share the love of Christ with everyone you meet," wrote Jaggard of Haw.
Haw, has 180 saves and a career goals-against average of 0.76, third best in Westmont history.
Scott was honored as someone who, "leads her team by example with consistent, grit and tremendous work-ethic.
"We will miss her tenacious defending in the midfield, and her consistency in every area of her life," wrote Jaggard. "As a servant leader, she has found ways to draw out the best performance from others and invest in relationships and share the love of God with those around her."
Scott is a two-time All-GSAC honoree who has scored four goals and contributed 10 assists.
Berthoud was recognized as having, "a fiery passion for the game and a selfless love for her team. She is a vocal leader holding teammates accountable, but also leading by example with her high work ethic and competitiveness.
"She leaves a legacy of excellence on and off the field. We will miss her incredible passion for the game and the intensity she always brings to everything she does as well as the amazing goals she scores!
Berthoud, a transfer from Lee (Tenn.) after her freshman year, scored 11 goals and notched two assists over the past two years.
Bri Johnson was honored as, "A team captain who leads from a place of intense passion and competitiveness. She has the ability to demand high performance from others by holding the highest standards for herself."
Last year's GSAC Player of the Year and a second team All-American, Johnson has scored 31 goals and recorded eight assists over her career.
"Bri has a business-like demeanor and a talent for problem solving and organizing teams and ideas," wrote Jaggard. "Her no-nonsense approach to leadership is respected by her teammates and makes all of us want to step up the level of our performance. Bri leaves a legacy of excellence on and off the field that comes from a long-term investment in her sport and the people around her."
The Warriors will be back in action next Thursday when they host the Royals of Hope International in another Golden State Athletic Conference match-up.
Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics.