A pair of goals by seniors Tim Heiduk and Christian Webb, and some spectacular goaltending by senior Edward “Lalo” Delgado, resulted in a 2-0 Westmont Men’s Soccer win over NAIA 8th-ranked Rocky Mountain of Montana on Saturday afternoon at Thorrington Field.
“It was an interesting game in that it was the first game this year that we had a lot of the ball, more so than we have had in the previous games,” said head coach Dave Wolf, who is in his 29th year at the helm of the men’s soccer program. “So, it was a question of, ‘who are we going to be in this game?’ I thought we had some very good stretches in possession, in moving the ball and keeping it. And I thought we had some loose moments.”
In the 56th minute, Heiduk found the net. Jona Romero sent a ball from the left flank back to Sean Nakaoka in the center of the field. Nakaoka drove the ball over the top as Heiduk was breaking down the field. The ball bounced once on the ground before Heiduk chased it down and used his right foot to flick it over the head of the hard-charging goalkeeper and into the far-left netting.
“The ball that Sean played was inch perfect,” expressed Wolf. “I had my defensive midfielder (Nakaoka) assisting my center back (Heiduk) on a goal and doing so from a central defensive position.
“One of the things that is interesting about our team is that we have a central defender who is very usable going forward,” remarked Wolf. “There are a couple of ways he can play. He can go on a dribble and then he can try and play a tight combination, or he can play a ball forward and run without the ball. I would prefer the second because if you turn over the ball in the first example, he is gone and the other team can break. If you turn over the ball in the second example, he is on the forward line and probably someone has rotated into his role in the back.”
Delgado tallied five saves on the day, but none more impressive that what he produced in the 80th minute. Rocky Mountain’s Nolan Sherwood broke loose in the box and hit a hard shot, but Delgado extended his right leg to not only block the ball but also gather it into his body and preserve the shutout.
“That is an All-American goalkeeper,” said Wolf about the save. “He stays big, he is patient, he doesn’t leave early (his line), he doesn’t guess. He stays big and he reacts beautifully. In addition to Tim’s goal, that was the biggest moment in the match.”
Two and one-half minutes later, Christian Webb closed the door on the Battlin’ Bears. Francisco “Panchito” Castro intercepted a pass and delivered a cross from the left flank to near the top of the six-yard box where it found Webb. Webb eluded a defender, then lofted the ball over the keeper with his left foot.
The win gave Westmont its first 3-0 start since the 2007 season.
The Warriors will return to action on Monday when they host the Cougars of Kansas Wesleyan as part of a men’s and women’s doubleheader. The men will kick off at 1:30 p.m., followed by the women at 4 o’clock.