The Westmont community had to contest a different type of Firestorm on campus Saturday – one that goes by the name of Arizona Christian. Featuring a maneuvered lineup, reinvigorated players, and precision passing, Westmont Men’s Soccer improved its record to 7-5 overall and 3-3 in the Golden State Athletic Conference by way of a 3-2 victory over ACU (9-5, 2-4).
Coming into their pivotal match up against the Firestorm, Westmont had lost consecutive disappointing games against nationally ranked conference foes, #18 Biola and #12 Concordia. With important GSAC positioning on the line, the Warriors’ coaching staff decided it was time for an adjustment.
“It was simply time to change things up a bit to take pressure off of some of our guys who have been playing a lot of minutes,” specified assistant coach Johnny Whallon. “We believe that we have a deep bench and an assortment of guys who can play a plethora of positions, and I think both of those traits were on display today.”
Starting in the place of customary goalkeeper Josh Glover, and making his first appearance in goal since his complete game victory against Whittier, was senior Andrew Singer.
Additionally, sophomore Muhammad Mehai was shifted over to right back from his usual center back slot, sophomore Brandon Talsma was relocated from the right side to left back, and junior Patrick Wynne gathered his first start of the year at the center back position.
The tuning to Mehai and Talsma factored immensely into the offensive game plan as well. Repeatedly the duo flanked the defense, dispatching cross after cross into the Firestorm penalty area, championing a Warriors’ offense that created 27 shots on the day.
The Warriors held ACU to 12 shots overall, three of which were on goal. However, the Firestorm did convert on two nontraditional goal scoring chances as Carlos Villa scored from practically the midfield stripe in the fifth minute, and added a penalty kick goal in the 78th minute.
Westmont’s first goal came in the 43rd minute as senior Issac Veenstra directed a header into the net off a free kick from sophomore Tanner Wolf.
The team rode this momentum into the second half as the Warriors scored two goals in the first two minutes and two seconds of the period to make it three goals in four minutes and 26 seconds of play.
The second and third goals were scored by Wynne and junior Jonathan Yeeles respectively, with Wynne guiding a header across the line after a corner kick from senior Nana Akyen, and Yeeles notching a tally from five yards out after a blocked attempt from senior Cody Howen.
“To score three goals in four and a half minutes really showed acuity from us,” declared Whallon. “The guys really took ownership at the half, our captains (seniors Marcos Lopez, Rick McCarthy, and Sean Siemens) showed terrific leadership, and (freshman midfielder) Wilton (Quintero) did very well for us in the middle. It was such a contrast to their response in our last game against Concordia. It wasn’t really what we said as coaches, it was the guys.”
“It was a very important victory for us,” continued Whallon. “We certainly helped our cause – not only from a GSAC perspective, but in our overall confidence level as well… The team hosted 18 recruits for our ID camp over the past 36 hours and this win was just such a positive ending to a long but fantastic week.”
With four games remaining in GSAC play, Concordia (6-0) sits atop the conference with 18 points (three points for a win and one for a tie). San Diego Christian is in second with 11 points, and Biola and Westmont are tied for third with nine points. Just two points back is Vanguard with seven points, Arizona Christian and The Master’s are tied for sixth with six points, and Hope International rounds out the conference with four points.
The Warrior men will try to keep the good times rolling when they travel to Santa Clarita for an October 22 match up with The Master’s. That bout is scheduled for 3 p.m.