Wednesday, January 17 , 2018, 7:14 am | Fair 47º

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Westmont Men Edge Hope International to Win Conference Tournament

Westmont Men’s Soccer (10-4-3) defeated the Royals of Hope International by a score of 2-1 to take the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament championship this afternoon.

This is Westmont’s first GSAC Tournament championship since 2008, the same year that the Tea Fire burned part of Westmont’s campus.

Westmont head coach Dave Wolf said, “We found a way. I got a really good piece of advice from one of my former players and it was basically, ‘there is no script for a final.’ So regardless of how you’re playing, how the semifinal looked like, or the team you think you have or don’t have, when it’s a final it’s just a different game.”

Other than their first game of the season when they gave up three goals, the Warriors haven’t conceded more than one goal in any game this year, and that trend continued today.

“We haven’t given up goals and that obviously really helps your mentality and keeps your fighting spirit alive. I think that was the case again today,” recalled Wolf.

Hope took the lead in the 19th minute. The Royals intercepted a pass in the Westmont’s defense third and Jose Hernandez fired a shot across the goal that ricocheted off the right post and into the back left netting of the goal.

The score remained 1-0 in favor of Hope heading into half time.

Westmont’s offense was finally able to respond in the 69th minute. Goalkeeper Lalo Delgado booted a ball all the way to the other end of the field where Jeremiah Anderson won the loose ball and shot past the keeper to knot the score at one a piece.

“I think Jerry turned the game a little bit on the goal. He has that individual capability of just shifting things,” said Wolf.

Westmont continued to defend and waited for another offensive opportunity. That opening came in the 80th minute. Tim Heiduk aggressively beat a defender and headed into the box looking to shoot, he was then fouled by a Hope defender and was awarded a penalty kick.

Heiduk waited for the referee’s whistle, shuffled his feet and fired a ball from the penalty spot to the bottom right corner of the goal and put Westmont up by the final score of 2-1.

Wolf said of Heiduk, “I thought he was awesome. I thought he touched every blade of grass, lead, and played with the highest level of quality of anybody on our team. He was our best player today. He had a whole lot to do with us winning that game.

“To me this is a little bit of a five year culmination. The two guys that I give the most credit to are Johnny Whallon and Tovi Eliasen. They joined the staff five years ago and started charting a new direction for us,” praised Wolf. “The five year plan that they laid out had us winning the GSAC championship this year and going to the national tournament.

“This current team, they deserve a bunch of credit for sure. I don’t know if I’ve had a goalkeeper and a back four like this one. This is a special group,” Wolf continued. “To be able to arrive at this point and to be able to walk away with the win – it’s a real special thing. I’m really grateful and humbled by the opportunity to be a part of this group of guys and to have coached them this year.”

As the tournament champions, the Warriors have earned an automated birth into the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament. The NAIA selection show starts at 10:00 a.m. this Monday. That is when Westmont will know who they are paired up against and where they will be playing for next Saturday’s opening round game. 

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