Owen Bates added special touch to Westmont’s 6-0 men’s soccer rout of visiting Bethesda on Wednesday at Thorrington Field.
Bates, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury, scored two goals in his first game in 517 days.
The San Marcos alum finished a pass from John Ruetschle in the 43rd minute and scored his second in 54th from Braeden Pryor.
“First and foremost, it was great to see Owen on the field,” said Westmont coach Dave Wolf. “At some points, we would’ve considered any appearances on the field a victory. To see him get on the board feels like a big bonus. If we get him going, in addition to the arsenal we already have, you can get excited very quickly about our group.”
Bates was thrilled to be playing again and contributing to Westmont’s fifth straight win.
“It was an emotional day,” he said. “It was a long road and it wasn’t always easy. I was happy to be out there and I was happy to score a couple goals. I wanted three, but getting two was awesome.
“It’s just great to be a part of this group. We’re looking good, feeling good, and trying to have a special season.”
Westmont finished its pre-conference scheule at 5-0-1.
“I don’t think we won even two in a row at any point last year,” said Wolf. “Our team has to be given credit for what they’ve done up to this point. We won five games all of last year, and today we won our fifth.
“This is a group that has made a lot of progress, and not just physically, but also psychologically. They are tougher mentally, more resilient, and in a really good place heading into conference play.”
The Warriors began the barrage in the fourth minute when Pryor rolled a pass to Martin Anguiano. Anguiano, who was wide open in the box, followed the pass toward the goal line and, without a defender around him, poked a shot past keeper Felipe Lima for his third goal of the season.
Twelve minutes later, it was Donovan Howat’s turn to get in the box score. This time, the assist came from Michael Palmer.
“Donny (Howat) is a guy who’s been fighting to get back on track,” said Wolf. “He’s been fighting hard and today, he had a couple classic Donovan Howat moments. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very characteristic of him.
“Sometimes, scoring a goal just helps make you feel better.”
In the 30th minute the Warriors extended their lead to 3-0 off of a fast-moving free kick. Howat quickly played the ball on the near sideline to Miguel Alvarado, who lofted a pass to Pryor, who was darting towards the box on the far side. Pryor took the ball full stride and put in the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Pryor put the finishing touches on the win in the 70th minute, taking a feed from Erik Guerrero and calmly depositing his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Next Thursday, the Warriors begin Golden State Athletic Conference play with a trip to Arizona. On Thursday, they open with 19th-ranked Ottawa (Ariz.) (5-2-1) at 8 p.m., before taking on Arizona Christian (3-1-3) under the sun at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re starting off with a bang,” stated Wolf. “OUAZ made the deepest run of any GSAC team last season, and was a team that handled us fairly well at our place last year. We won’t have to wait long to know where we stand in the pecking order.”