Reese Davidson of Westmont runs through a tackle attempt by a Marymount defender during the Warriors’ 2-0 win. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

It took one goal in each half and a firm back line for the Westmont women’s soccer team to defeat Marymount, 2-0, in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament on Saturday at Thorrington Field.

The Warriors now advance to the Final Site of the National Championship tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. 

On Saturday, Westmont (15-3-1) might have been a bit surprised to find Marymount ready to run with them. The Mariners played the previous morning, defeating Oregon Tech 2-1 to advance to the bracket final.

“Marymount definitely didn’t come out like they were tired from playing 90 minutes yesterday,” said Warrior head coach Jenny Jaggard. “They pressured us and strung some passes together. There were a couple of scary moments for us in the first half. I feel like we were trying to get our postseason jitters out.” 

The Westmont jitters only made it to the the 30th minute, when sophomore forward Katie Stella took the first of two Kira Nemeth assisting passes, and buried the shot into the net. 

“Katie has a knack for getting in the right spots and she’s very composed when it comes to finishing,” said Jaggard.

Another underclassman off the bench provided Westmont the separation score it needed to advance to Alabama. In the 78th minute, the Warrior attack, led by another textbook crossing pass from Nemeth, yielded a scoring strike off the foot of freshman Reese Davidson. 

“It wasn’t really a surprise when Kira’s pass landed at Reese’s feet that she was going to put it away. We have been doing a fair amount of practicing that exchange and I am really excited that it went in for her,” said Jaggard. “Our players coming off the bench like Katie Stella and Reese, they are still playing hard even this late in the season and that’s really helped us. They’ve earned some minutes and today we saw how that did more than just make the starters better in practice, they helped us win the game.” 

The Warriors now get set to pack up and travel for what they are planning on four games in five days beginning Tuesday, December 3. They will take on the team ranked just one spot behind them, #9 Sciences & Arts (Okla.). The Drovers are 21-1 and champions of the Sooner Athletic Conference. 

Westmont last played at the Final Site of the NAIA National Championship Tournament in 2017, when they fell to Spring Arbor (Mich.) in the quarterfinals.