Senior forward Amy Lawson scored two goals and assisted on a third while freshman forward Kylie Hawkins assisted on two and scored one in a 4-1 victory by the Westmont College women’s soccer team over Fresno Pacific on Wednesday afternoon at Russ Carr Field. The win improved the Warriors’ Golden State Athletic Conference record to 3-2-1 (4-6-2 overall) while Fresno Pacific fell to 3-3 (7-3-2 overall).
“We’ve had so many tightly contested games that it is nice to play a game where you are thinking and coaching a little differently,” Westmont head coach Dave Wolf said. “Certainly a part of that difference was getting some other people on the field who haven’t had an opportunity to play a lot.”
A change in Westmont’s formation may have contributed to the offensive success.
“We played out of a 4-4-2 today and basically tried to get Taylor (Callan) and Amy a little closer together,” Wolf said. “I think the new formation has some potential, but I think we have some work to do. I’m not convinced that we can run this formation, but there is something to be said about Amy being able to play more central. When we play a 4-3-3, it seems she is out in the wide channels more. We want Amy in places where she can get looks at the goal.”
“The pace of the game felt a lot better,” Hawkins said. “I feel like our team really connected. We went back to a 4-4-2 formation, and I thought we worked it really well.”
Wolf’s ability to experiment with the new formation is largely because of the growing strength of his defense.
“Amanda Barrett and Skyla Lauda have formed a really good partnership in the center of the defense,” Wolf said. “I thought KB (Kayla Barkett) passed the ball really well out of the left back position today. While you are tinkering with stuff in other places of the field, you want your back four to be solid and good. They have developed into a nice group.”
Westmont’s first goal came in the 29th minute. After Callan passed the ball to Lawson at the top of the box, Lawson scrambled with a defender who managed to poke the ball away. But Lawson recovered and was able to fire off the shot.
“I was able to get a touch on it and actually struck the ball sitting down,” Lawson said. “I was falling down and was able to strike it in the upper V. It was kind of a lucky shot. The first one went in, and from then on I think that we knew we were going to knock a few away today.”
Lucky or not, the shot opened the door for what was yet to come.
“As a striker, the first goal is the hardest,” Lawson said. “I always put pressure on myself. ‘I need a goal, I need a goal, I need a goal. It’s my job’. When I get the first goal, there is automatically a release of the negative pressure. I say to myself, ‘I can do this, I can put away more.’ After that, a lot of times I am able to get a second or third (goal) and feel confident for the rest of the game.”
Lawson’s second goal came just before the intermission.
“The second goal was fun,” an exuberant Lawson said. “Kylie was able to run down the right flank and get a beautiful ball driven in to me. I was able to turn it quick and shot it into the same upper right corner. That was a fun strike. It was a rocket.”
“The fact that Amy hits one right-footed and hits one left-footed says all that needs to be said about her quality and what she is capable of doing,” Wolf said.
The Warriors stretched the lead to three goals in the 55th minute off the foot of Hawkins.
“Taylor was able to get a chip down the right side,” Lawson said. “I was able to touch it just as it bounced past the defender and cut inside. I heard coach yelling, ‘Kylie, Kylie’ and Kylie yelling ‘ball’ and knew she was at the top. I slotted it into her and she put it away, first time.”
“Amy took the ball to the corner of the 18,” Hawkins said, “and I saw the slot between the two defenders if I stayed at the top. Amy laid it back perfectly. I just had to one-time it and found the corner.”
In the 60th minute, Hawkins took possession of the ball at the top of the box and passed it to sophomore midfielder Jenna Nelson on the right-hand side. Nelson fired off a shot from about 12 yards into the upper left-hand corner of the net to put the Warriors on top 4-0.
Fresno Pacific’s Dani Dickie scored in the 67th minute, heading in a corner kick from Ashley Sherr.
With the win, Westmont moves into third place in the GSAC standings, having tallied 10 points (three points for a win, one for a tie). No. 3 Azusa Pacific (10-1, 5-0) sits atop the conference while No. 6 California Baptist (10-3, 4-1) claims second. Just behind the Warriors is a three-way tie for fourth place between Fresno Pacific, The Master’s (8-4, 3-2) and No. 15 Concordia (6-2-3, 2-1-3).
The Warriors will return to action at 2 p.m. Saturday when they travel to Irvine to take on Concordia.
Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.