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Westmont Soccer: Warriors Post Comeback 5-2 Win over Bethel

Anthony Niboli and Jonathon Schoff have two goals apiece while Jake Joyner scores from 25 yards.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first 20 minutes of play, Westmont men’s soccer team put up five goals to claim a decisive 5-2 win over Bethel of Tennessee at the Azusa Pacific Cougar Classic on Saturday. Midfielders Anthony Niboli and Jonathon Schoff each recorded two goals and senior forward Jake Joyner scored an unassisted goal from 25 yards out.

Bethel (0-1-1) scored both of its goals within a three-minute period. Dwayne Smith scored in the 17th minute on a low shot to the far post from 12 feet away. Smith figured into another goal in the 20th minute when he crossed the ball from the left side to Steven Short, who was able to score on one touch.

“It was a little bit of an odd game in the sense that I thought we were in control of the whole game, but as we did on Friday, we gave up a couple of goals on the counter attack,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “It was a bit of shocker to us. We were down 2-0 but felt good about the way we were playing.”

The Warriors (1-1) cracked the scoreboard in the38th minute when Niboli headed a cross from senior forward Anthony Schneider to the far post. The goal proved to be the beginning of a comeback that would continue shortly after the end of intermission.

“Probably the key moment of the game was the first goal,” said Wolf. “Andy got loose and again served a really good ball into the box. Tony got up real well to head home. It restored our confidence a little bit.

“Even though we were down at half 2-1, Bethel was really starting to suffer physically from the day before when they went to double-overtime with Azusa,” assessed Wolf. “Because we can play some people, we just kept going at them.

“We’ve got six players we can play up front,” he explained. “It means less playing time for them individually, but more effectiveness while they are on because they are fresher. We kept coming at them and they couldn’t contain that group of guys up front.”

In the 50th minute, Schoff scored the equalizer off a pass from Joyner, a senior from SBCC and Santa Ynez High. Three minutes later, the Warriors took the lead when Niboli struck again, this time assisted by senior Sammy Montemer. Joyner scored his goal in the 71st minute, curling his long-distance shot over the Wildcats’ keeper. The icing on the cake came in the 75th minute when a shot by sophomore Dan Sargent rebounded off the keeper to the feet of Schoff who put it away.

“Two days in a row we fought back, which is sign of some character and determination,” said Wolf. “I also thought the chemistry of the team was very good. There was no finger pointing. When we went down a second goal I thought, ‘That will test our chemistry.’ But they kept going and kept battling.”

The Warriors outshot the Wildcats 20-8 and placed 11 of their 20 attempts on target. Westmont also held an 8-5 advantage on corner kicks.

“We didn’t score a lot of goals last year even with Johnny (Alcaraz),” said Wolf, referring to last year’s leading scorer. “To score seven the first weekend feels pretty good — and we scored five unanswered today. Once we got on a roll, we were able to attack in waves.”

Westmont travels to Beaverton, Ore., to play No. 5 Simon Fraser (B.C.) on Friday and No. 24 Concordia (Ore.) on Saturday at the Nike Campus.

Ron Smith is Westmont‘s sports information director.

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