Westmont Men’s Soccer (5-1-1, 0-1 GSAC) opened up Golden State Athletic Conference play on Thursday night against #20 OUAZ (6-2-1, 1-0) in Surprise, Arizona. The Spirit took a lead in the game’s opening minutes, and kept the Warriors on their heels the rest of the way in what turned out to be a 3-1 win for OUAZ.
“Firstly, we faced a very good team tonight,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “It’s clear why they’re ranked and it’s clear why they had the success that they had last season. Secondly, they played well, and we were off tonight.
“When you combine those two facts, that’s what you get. Credit to OUAZ for being part of the reason we were off tonight.”
Before the chairs were warm the Spirit put the Warriors in a position they hadn’t been in since the first half of their season opener. After trailing for 60 minutes against the Cougars on September 2, the Warriors had not trailed for a second in the five matches to follow entering Friday night.
Three minutes into Friday’s match, the Spirit changed that fact. Jamaine Turner opened the scoring three minutes in when Tinashe Simbo carried the ball to the top of Westmont’s box, drawing a pair of defenders to him.
Trailing was Turner, who Simbo rolled a pass back to once he saw the open opportunity for the striker. With the first shot of the night, Turner pocketed the ball inside the left post beyond Brady Highfill for the 1-0 lead.
Later on, with 17 minutes left in the half, Turner struck again. This time the forward was making a run toward the center of the six-yard box as teammate Titouan Desveaux dribbled down the near sideline. Desveaux took a touch towards the middle, and spun a pass with his right foot to find Turner in the middle of the box.
With one touch, Turner leapt and volleyed a ball with his left foot towards the inside of the right post, putting the Spirit up 2-0.
“We hadn’t been behind in a game in nearly a month,” reflected Wolf. “It’s been even longer since we’ve lost, all the way back to the UCSB exhibition. Giving up those two goals relatively early definitely put us on our heels a bit with a lot of game left.”
Up to that point of the match, the Warriors had recorded just one shot on goal. Two minutes following Turner’s second goal, however, the Warriors cut the lead in half.
Freshman Erik Guerrero sent in a corner kick and placed the ball in no-man’s land for Spirit keeper Adam Salama. Salama hesitated for a moment before vacating his goal line in an attempt to punch the ball in the air. Beating him to the spot, however, was Landon Amaral.
Westmont’s captain collected his second goal of the season by heading the ball to an empty net, cutting the deficit in half momentarily.
Westmont had nearly twenty minutes to tie the match, but in the 58th minute, Turner continued to be a one-man wrecking crew at the Warriors’ expense.
This time, the Warriors were caught on their heels after squandering a scoring opportunity. Moments before Turner doubled OUAZ’s lead again, Martin Anguiano had Westmont’s best chance at tying the match. Instead, Anguiano’s shot found the hands of Salama, and from there the Spirit took off.
The Spirit delivered the ball to Turner as he crossed midfield with not a single defender in his path. Turner allowed the pass to roll along the turf and follow him into the box, where Highfill was the lone man to beat. After alternating between the left and right post on his first two goals, Turner went back to the inside of the left post to collect his hat-trick and put the Spirit up 3-1.
Following Turner’s third goal, the Warriors did not record another shot on goal for the remainder of the match. Overall, the Spirit out-shot the Warriors 14-8, and 8-4 on frame.
“Now is a time we can recalibrate a bit,” said Wolf. “This sport always gives you a couple opportunities a year to recalibrate, and while you hope you don’t have too many of those opportunities, you should take advantage when you do.
“This is opportunity number one for us to reset a bit, and it’ll be interesting to see how we handle this opportunity against another really good team on Saturday.”
Westmont returns to the pitch on Saturday afternoon under the sun in Glendale, where they’ll take on Arizona Christian (5-1-3, 1-0) at 12:15 p.m. Links to live coverage is available on the Westmont Athletics website.