The Westmont College men’s soccer team won its second straight game Saturday, defeating Embry-Riddle University (Ariz.) 2-1 at home on the final day of the Heritage Club Classic. The Warriors put up both of their scores in the first half, with senior Francisco “Panchito” Castro and junior Tyler Young each collecting a goal and an assist.
The buoyant Westmont first half contrasted with the defensive toil of the second half. For Warrior head coach, Dave Wolf, the positive start to the season left him feeling confident in his personnel and grateful that his team survived a challenging schedule this week after playing Tuesday at UCLA and then yesterday.
“It’s a little bit of a feeling of being let off the hook today with the outcome – the suffering the players experienced in the second half was largely due to my overzealous scheduling this week,” said Wolf. “The contributions from the depth of the roster was the key for us today. Back-to-back days against two good teams and playing a bunch of young guys in the back, we came out okay.”
To counter the wear and tear, Westmont started three players that did not see action on Friday – junior Jose Vasquez, sophomore Wyatt Babineau and freshman Justin Nakaoka. Wolf was impressed.
“Wyatt played 90 minutes at left back and he did a really nice job,” continued Wolf. “It was good to get Jose a solid 60 minutes today, he helped us.”
Wolf noted that while it was the first time the Nakaoka brothers, senior Sean and freshman Justin, started a game together, it was most definitely not a novelty. “They have a genuine chemistry between them as players and Justin played well today. Sean was a big part of why were so good in the first half. His decision making and discipline in the middle of the park was perfect.”
The Warriors jumped out to the lead in the 10th minute when Young found Castro on the right flank and Castro blasted a shot off the hands of the Embry-Riddle goalkeeper and into the net. Castro returned the favor to Young just ten minutes later on a cross that Young drilled home for the second score. Wolf was pleased with the output.
“It is nice to see your center forward getting points and it was just as satisfying that he turned provider as well. Tyler used his size and strength combined with perfect timing, good technique – it was a classic center forward goal,” said Wolf. “Panchito has a self-belief system that befuddles opponents. The goalkeeper was not thinking ‘shot’ in that situation, which might have handcuffed him, and Panchito hits a heavy ball, he can put a charge in it. He made big plays for us both days.”
The visiting Eagles made things tight after scoring off a free kick in the 74th minute by Sebastion Aguas. Westmont held the middle of the field for the remainder of the half and came away with the victory.
In the first game Saturday, The Master’s and UC Merced battled to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes.
The Warriors return to action on Saturday, Aug. 31, hosting #8 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) at Thorrington Field. Game time is 3:30 p.m.