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Yazi Hernandez Scores Game Winner for Westmont Men

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) It was a Senior Day to remember for Westmont Men’s Soccer (6-3-3, 5-2 GSAC) as the Warriors took down Golden State Athletic Conference rival The Master’s (9-4-2 4-3 GSAC) in double overtime by a score of 2-1. The game winning goal came off the foot of senior Yazi Hernandez in the 107th minute – pleasing a host of students and alumni on campus for this weekend’s homecoming festivities.

It wasn’t easy for the Warriors, as they struggled to create opportunities throughout the game. Their grit and perseverance kept them in the game.

The Mustangs struck first in the 36th minute. A ball was crossed into the box where Sean Nakaoka headed the ball attempting to clear it. Daniel Smith then volleyed the ball past the diving Lalo Delgado to the bottom right corner of the goal putting The Master’s up 1-0.

Westmont head coach Dave Wolf said, “If I had to look at the full balance of the game, I thought they were better than us today. I do give the group credit for battling and keeping their nose in there on a day where it just felt like we were second best. They found a way. You have to have some of that in your team.”

Delgado made a few spectacular saves in the first half to keep the deficit manageable. Wolf said, “Lalo had to be very alert on two different set pieces. As long as the game stays at one you feel like, ‘maybe we can get one.’ He provided that opportunity for us. If they go two up it’s probably game, set, match. He had a big role in giving us a chance.”

Westmont’s offense was scoreless for the first 87 minutes of the game, but a free kick taken by Jeremiah Anderson in the 88th minute changed all that. Anderson ripped a shot just outside the box through the Mustang’s wall that found the left corner of the net – leveling the score at one a piece.

Wolf said, “We had to make a play at the end of regulation to stay alive. Jerry, as he has done on a couple of other occasions, was able to deliver in that moment.”

The final score of the game came in the 107th minute. Zach Godeck took a free kick at midfield and lobbed a ball into the box. Senior Blake Homan headed a ball towards the back post as Hernandez slipped in and tapped the ball past the keeper for the win.

Hernandez said, “It all starts with Coach Whallon. He’s been really encouraging us to make these runs. The “E” run is the one to the back post, and that’s something we’ve always been lacking – having that guy at the back post. I knew that ball was coming across to the other side, and I wanted to be at that spot. It happened Blake got that win on the header and I was just there to tap it in. It was a good feeling to be there.”

Wolf said, “I thought Yazi was good all day long, not just the finish to get the winner. I think it’s a special moment for him, for his family, and for all the things that he’s been through. On a personal level, I’m really happy for him.” Wolf added of the seniors, “I thought Blake, Josh, and Nate battled like crazy.”

Westmont finishes their last three regular season games on the road. They play next at William Jessup on Thursday at 4:00 pm.

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