Westmont Men’s Soccer (2-0-1) went head to head with the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (1-1) on Saturday, and came away with a 2-0 win. After a scoreless first half, the Warriors had to wait until the 72nd minute to break through. Then, the Warriors added another in the 79th minute to take control of the eventual win.
“There was a lot to like about the day,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “Sometimes the big boys have to show up, and today, they most definitely did.
“Pomona-Pitzer was a very good opponent. It was a great game and a proper college football match. These are good matches to get under your belt going into the final few pre-conference matches.”
In the first half, both the Warriors and the Sagehens threatened, but neither side could penetrate the other’s net. For Westmont, Aldo Becerril and Braeden Pryor both threatened with shots on goal, but Pomona-Pitzer’s keeper, Will Brooks, made a pair of routine stops.
On the other end, the Sagehens had a handful of opportunities around Westmont’s 18, and pulled the trigger four times. However, not one of the first-half shots challenged Westmont keeper, Brady Highfill.
“In the first half, we felt like we were regularly getting to the final-third,” reflected Wolf. “However, we didn’t feel like we were getting to the final layer of that final third. Going into that second half, we tried to give them a couple ideas on how to get better looks in the final layer.
“With that, the way they got through was entirely their own doing.”
In the 72nd minute, the eventual game-changing goal began with Pryor carrying the ball from the top of the 18-yard box to the edge of the six-bard on the near-side of the pitch.
The Sagehen’s nearest defender believed he had cut-off any possible angle that Pryor had to cross the ball, while also refusing Pryor any room to take a touch before setting up his left foot. Then, Pryor improvised.
Instead of attempting to work around the defender, or clear it off of his opponent for a corner kick, Pryor softly grazed the ball with the outside of his right foot and passed the defender.
Waiting without a man near him was Becerril, who was right on the goal line. All it took was one touch for Becerril to deflect the pass to the back of the net, and give the Warriors the 1-0 lead.
“Big players make big plays,” said Wolf, “and that’s what we saw with both Aldo and Braeden today. When you need someone to make a play, that’s when the big players show up. Both of those men showed up.”
Seven minutes later, Pryor stole the spotlight again. This time, freshman Erik Guerrero sent in a cross from the edge of the near sideline. Guerrero fired just before dribbling out of bounds, and sent a high-arcing cross to the center of the six.
On came Pryor, who let the ball travel across his body before reaching out with his right foot at the last second. Once again, with the outside of his right foot, Pryor took one soft touch. This time, the ball spun off his foot and floated to the inside of the right post, leaving Brooks without a play.
“Braeden showed up big and on multiple occasions,” nodded Wolf. “He was the provider on the first goal, and the finisher on a magnificent second goal.”
Twelve minutes following Pryor’s goal, the Warriors finished off their first shutout of 2022. Along with a stellar backline, Highfill made the one save he was asked to.
“Pomona-Pitzer was a legitimate challenge,” assured Wolf, “and we handled this challenge extremely well. On top of Aldo and Braeden, we finally pitched our first shutout. You can score goals and start to feel good about yourself, but eventually you have to put up some zeroes.
“We’ve talked about wanting to get our goals-against average below one, and the only way to do that is to put zeroes. Today, we finally got one.”
Westmont returns to action this coming Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., when they host The Master’s in a non-conference matchup. Links to tickets and live coverage are available on the Westmont Athletics website.