Westmont Men’s Soccer (9-5-2, 4-4-1 GSAC) saw its season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday. The Warriors fell to Ottawa of Arizona (11-5-2, 5-3-1) by a score of 2-0.
The game also brought an end to Dave Wolf’s 32 years of service as Westmont’s head coach.
Westmont’s winningest coach, Wolf posted a record of 362-177-58 (.655) in 597 games. During his tenure, he won nine GSAC Regular Season Championships and seven GSAC Tournament Championships, the latest for both varieties coming in 2020.
Wolf took teams to the NAIA National Championship on 10 occasions, the last being in 2019. He has coached 21 players who were recognized as NAIA All-Americans and another 35 who received honorable mention recognition.
Eight times one of Wolf’s players were named the GSAC Player of the Year and 114 were named to the All-GSAC team. Wolf received the GSAC Coach of the Year award five times (1993, 1994, 1995, 2016, and 2019).
Asked for his thoughts about this being his last game, Wolf replied, “I really haven’t waivered during the last year relative to this being the right decision at the right time. I started at that place, I’ve stayed in that place and I’m still in that place today.”
In reply to a question about what he will miss most, Wolf reflected, “I think that will take some shape over time. The thing I am clear about is that I love training. I love thinking about training, preparing training and running training. To me, that was such a wonderful part of the process. That will be difficult to leave behind.
“The second thing I would say is that I will miss the experience of the journey that each season provided. You go through all kinds of different stuff. This has been a very full year. I told the guys at the end that one thing was for sure – this last year wasn’t boring.”
Regarding today’s game, Wolf assessed, “I think, defensively, we were not at the requisite intensity for a game of this magnitude and importance. Even before the first goal was scored, there were a couple of signs I didn’t like in terms of how we were going about our business. Unfortunately, as that narrative unfolded, the first goal came on the end of it. We have conceded first a good bit this year and that is a hard way to play this game.”
Ottawa scored both of its goals in the first half. In the 15th minute, Jamaine Turner scored on an unassisted goal when he dribbled forward before putting the ball in the back of the net. Aleem Barclay scored the Spirit’s second goal in the 24th minute. He took a shot from 20 yard out on the left side that bounced off the far post and into the goal.
“I think the response of the group at halftime and in the second half was outstanding,” praised Wolf. “I am really pleased with that. I think they have demonstrated on a consistent basis the character that they have and the way they take on honest critique and do something with it. I give them a lot of credit for that.”
Though the Warriors were able to hold the Spirit scoreless in the second half, they were unable to score themselves.
“Matt Morgan was outstanding today,” offered Wolf. “Daniel Tuscano touched every blade of the artificial turf and always played his heart out. I thought Connor Lynch, Jonah Houston and J.J. (Jackson Wolf) were very good today.
“However, we didn’t have the collective piece in the first half,” said Wolf. “Those individual performances, that are admirable and very noteworthy, are not enough in this sport. This is a sport of collectivity and a sport of unity. We were not at our best to start (the game).”
Despite the loss, Wolf regarded the team qualifying for the GSAC Tournament as a victory.
“Just to get to today, we needed some significant heroics,” added the veteran coach. “This is a challenging sport to play and they played it under some very difficult conditions this year – whether that was conceding first goals and having to chase games or some of the things we experienced off the field. Obviously, physically we are not at 100% at this point.
“This is obviously a sport that demands resiliency. Before you role the first ball out, you know that this is going to be a part of the deal. Knowing that, and actually being able to respond to those moments, are not the same thing. I think this group did a really good job of responding.
“Hopefully, now they will get some rest and some healing and all the things that they have earned.”