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Westmont Women’s Soccer Falls on Penalty Kicks in GSAC Tourney Title Game

Westmont lost 4-1 to Vanguard in a penalty-kick shootout in the Golden State Athletic Conference women's soccer tournament final on Friday at Vanguard. The teams played to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtime periods.

The result gives fifth-ranked Vanguard the title and an automatic berth to the NAIA national tournament. No. 9 Westmont (14-3-2) is expected to receive an at-large berth when the field is announced Monday.

"It stings right now and it is challenging, but at the same time, I think we will be better from the experience," said Westmont head coach Chantel Cappuccilli of the loss.  "To be able to come from behind and also keep another ball out of the net, I give credit to the players for digging deep in those moments because that is not easy to do."

Vanguard scored in the 23rd minute to take a 1-0 lead. Madison Lopp went one-on-one with goalkeeper Gabi Haw and looped the ball from the right side of the box over Haw's outstretched hands.

Wesmont found the equalizer in the 78th minute. Haylee Lopes took a free kick from 30 yards out and drove it toward the goal. The ball found its way past the defense to Bri Johnson, who hammered the ball past the keeper.

"Playing on a turf surface, it helps to whip the ball as much as you can," noted Cappuccilli. "The ball took a bounce in our favor, skidded in our direction, and was able to get past the back line. Bri did well to be composed under pressure and handled the moment. The surface definitely played into our favor."

In the first few minutes of overtime, Vanguard came out strong, taking four shots, two of which were on goal. Haw made a spectacular save on a shot by Kiera Muniz in what goalkeeper coach Katie Tunin said at the time was "probably her best save of the season." Haw punched the ball over the top to keep the Warriors in the game.

A minute later, Haw made an even more impressive save, punching away a blistering shot by Lopp.

"Gabi kept us in the game in the first half of the first overtime period," asserted Cappuccilli, "For her to come up big the way she did as a freshman is a testament to her maturity and the way she handles pressurized situations. After those opening minutes, we were able to work ourselves into the remainder of the overtime."

In the second overtime, it was the Warriors making an offensive charge, keeping the ball in front of the Lions' netting. Jackie Lopez had a shot that was saved by goalkeeper Amanda Valentine and Johnson had two attempts that sailed wide.

"Losing in a shootout situation is a bummer," said Cappuccilli, "but at the end of the day, I look at the 110 minutes that were played and there was a lot there to build off of headed into the postseason. For that, I am very proud."

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