MONTECITO, Calif. - #12 Westmont (2-1, 2-0 GSAC) needed only a 10th minute goal to defeat Hope International (0-3, 0-2) in the second week of Golden State Athletic Conference play.
The game did not supply a great deal of scoring opportunities with only four shots on goal by both sides combined. Instead, both defenses shined, protecting their nets and their keepers without much falter for almost the entirety of the match.
Ninety seconds in, Jona Romero was fouled a few yards outside the 18-yard box on the near side of the field, and on the ensuing set piece Romero recorded Westmont’s first shot on goal, which was swatted out of bounds by Hope International goalkeeper Oscar Sierra, leading to the first of six corner kicks in the first half for Westmont.
In the 10th minute the Warriors opened up the scoring following a perfect through pass by Michael Palmer, who landed a ball at the top of the 18-yard box, right at the feet of Tyler Young. Young blew past a pair of Royals defenders as the ball travelled through the air, then had a wide open one on one with Sierra, who was late to get off his line. Young took a dribble to set up his right foot then drilled the back of the net with ease, putting the Warriors up 1-0 with the first goal of his senior year.
Head coach Dave Wolf said, “One of our takeaways from the last couple games was that we had to get someone else scoring, with Sam Tuscano being our only supplier as of late. We focused a good bit this week on trying to get something out of Tyler, so it was really good to see him come through for us early.”
Hope International was quiet for the majority of the first half, not recording a single shot on goal. One moment of danger spurred for the Warriors in the 31st minute when off of a counter, Hope’s John Mejia tore through the Warriors defense on the far side, carrying the ball for 30 yards with no challenge. Mejia dribbled into the 18-yard box and fired a shot with great velocity past an oncoming Mans Ingvarson, but Ingvarson had his near post angle cut off and the ball struck the near post and went out of bounds.
While it ended up not even counting as a shot, the Royals most legitimate threat of the whole game came in the 41st minute when Hope’s Angel Florez had a shot inside the 18-yard box and got tangled up with Westmont’s Romero right at he shot. The ball soared into the net, but simultaneously with the referee’s whistle, as he ruled that Florez fouled Romero before getting the shot off.
In the first half the Warriors did not allow a shot on goal
The Warriors had a handful of missed opportunities in the first half, not adding to their lead despite six corner kicks and three set pieces near the eighteen.
Ten minutes into the second half Westmont had only their third shot on goal when Micah Nelson received a through ball from Braden Pryor but shot in right into the hands of Oscar Sierra.
In the 75th minute a handball by Zach Godeck led to the first shot on goal for the Royals, when Arturo Miguel Gutierrez sent a ball straight at Ingvarson, who punched the ball out. On the ricochet, Hope’s Luis Gastelum had a clear shot but sent it more than a foot over the top post.
Westmont had a couple of chances to ice the game late, and none bigger than in the 77th minute. Sam Tuscano found his way into the 18-yard box and juked the keeper Sierra, who came off his life to cut off Tuscano’s angle. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Tuscano’s momentum took him to his right and made it difficult to hook the shot around the near post, as he rolled it into the side of the net, and out of bounds.
Coach Wolf acknowledged the team’s inability to widen the lead, saying, “We were in some good attacking situations, but our attacking execution could have been better. Our coach, Johnny Whallon has a great quote where he says, ‘If we don’t make them pay early, they’ll make us pay late’. And that didn’t happen today, but moving forward we’ll have to find a way to get that second goal.”
The Warriors had to hold off desperate attacks from the Royals for the final ten minutes, but nothing came close to the net as the 90th minute arrived with no harm done, and Westmont had their second consecutive victory to start GSAC play. The Warriors surrendered only one shot on goal in 90 minutes.
Coach Wolf spoke highly of his defensive core, saying, “The group in the back is playing really well, and it seems like they’ve really built some strong chemistry. Our two centerbacks, Nick Ruiz and Zach Godeck look like they’ve played together their whole lives, and they’re just a couple of two wise leaders who know how to direct a defense. A clean sheet is always nice, and good teams with good defense win close games.”
The Warriors return to play next week, as they host San Diego Christian in the third week of GSAC play.
Article courtesy of Westmont Athletics