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Soccer: Westmont Earns Trip to GSAC Championship

The Warriors will face Azusa Pacific in the title match after their 1-0 win over Concordia.

Westmont has advanced to the championship game of the Golden State Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament with a 1-0 win over No. 7 Concordia (12-6-1) on Saturday. Sophomore forward Dan Sargent recorded his first goal of the season in the 23rd minute to give Westmont the win.

“For the third time in the last two games we scored goals from long throws,” Westmont head coach Dave Wolf said. “Zach George winged a ball into the near post. Sarge got a head on it and flicked it over the keeper. Sarge does a lot of little things for us that don’t necessarily show up in the box score. He has to do a lot of heading and usually plays against a player that is a good bit bigger than he is in the center of the field. I was happy for him to get a reward for all the gritty, tough work that he has to do.”

The Warriors’ goal came less than a minute after Concordia’s Ryan Angell received his second yellow card of the game. As a result, the Warriors played 75 percent of the game with a man-up advantage. However, the Eagles proved to be a challenging opponent even with the diminished lineup.

“Concordia upped the tempo against us,” Wolf said. “They are an outstanding team who played in the national championship game last year and we were scrambling for the remainder of the half. I think the combination of the red card and the fact that we scored, ignited them. We were thankful to get to half time without giving up a goal. We reshaped our team in the second half, adopting more of a defensive poster. (Goalkeeper) Justin Etherton and (defender) Dillon Barna had very, very good games.”

Etherton recorded six saves for the Warriors, who have won their last five games and have not lost in their last six. Westmont has not given up a goal in the last four games except for two penalty kicks by Vanguard.

“To shut them out at their place, in the playoffs is a big accomplishment,” said Wolf. “Defensively, we have had some really good play from Zach George, who hadn’t played a lot during the season but who got an opportunity and has made the most of it. Dillion and Josh Webb have formed a good partnership. That has given us an opportunity to move Saul (Moreno) into the midfield.”

Westmont will meet up with No. 9 Azusa Pacific on Saturday to determine the GSAC champion. The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship. Last season, Westmont knocked off Azusa Pacific 2-1 in the first round of the NAIA Region II Tournament, handing the eventual national champions its only loss of the season. To make matters even more interesting, the Cougars are coached by Wolf’s brother, Phil.

“First, I’m thrilled to be in the game,” said Westmont’s coach Wolf. “For Phil and me, it is a great experience. We have managed these moments pretty well in terms of our own relationship. Obviously they are the defending national champion and the number one seed. I think those factors take the focus off the fact that two brothers are coaching in a final. I think there is a very healthy respect between the two programs. It should be a very good game and a game to be treasured because it should have just the right spirit to it.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in Azusa.

Ron Smith is Westmont’s sports information director.

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