An Unroyal Welcome

Submitted by: Jordan Wyatt - October 30th, 2013

 

WM_PRIM_FC_A_RGBBy Jordan Wyatt

October 30, 2013

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Westmont Men’s Soccer (9-6, 5-4 GSAC) guaranteed themselves a promotion into postseason play after capping off a turbulent 1-0 shutout victory over Golden State Athletic Conference foe Hope International (3-13-1, 1-7-1 GSAC) at Thorrington Field Wednesday.

The predominate theme of the match was idle offense and fruitless up field ventures; however, the contest swiftly transformed, proving that the first 70 minutes only represented the calm before the storm.

Four minutes into the second half, the Royals went a man down after a red card was issued for a thrown elbow. Nevertheless, Westmont would not capitalize on their newly found advantage for another 23 minutes.

In the 72nd minute, 16 total shots and 11 corner kicks later, two veterans – senior Sean Siemens and junior Jonathan Yeeles – teamed up to deliver the only goal of the contest. Just two yards outside of the penalty area, Siemens blasted a shot that collided with the Royal’s goalkeeper, subsequently ricocheting back out to Yeeles who polished off the finish from 10 yards out.

“We weren’t sure what he could give us,” relayed Westmont assistant coach Johnny Whallon in reference to Siemens, who hadn’t played in the Warriors’ last three matches.

“It was clear that having him on the field as a leader and captain paid off as he provided a big spark for us, capped off by the great finish from Yeeles. Sean’s playing time and performance today was a good sign, one that will definitely serve as a building block going forward.”

Over the final 18 minutes, the Westmont defense fended off multiple runs by the Royals. However, it was redshirt freshman goalkeeper Josh Glover who down the stretch would ultimately seal the Warriors’ postseason fate with two monumental saves.

With 4:21 left on the clock, Hope International’s Jesse Sandoval caught the Westmont defense by surprise when he fired a bending shot from 32 yards out. Glover reacted instinctively, punching the ball over the crossbar to prevent the score.

Then, with just 37 seconds remaining in the match, Glover came up clutch in arguably the most crucial play for the Warriors so far this season.

After a foul call in the penalty area that silenced all of Thorrington Field, Hope International received a penalty kick. Nevertheless, reading the intentions of Shahram Aghayousef perfectly, Glover threw himself right to the far post, and in a moment of brilliance, disposed the ball wide.

“The way the game ended was disappointing – giving up a penalty kick – but Josh Glover came up big to make the save and I think that shows his emerging confidence,” stated Whallon. “Josh really had to work to stay sharp mentally today. He didn’t see a lot of action but still tracked down two huge saves. He definitely deserves to be praised after an effort like today’s.

“In the end, I think that the importance of a win always trumps everything else,” continued Whallon. “We now have our first nine win season since 2010, and that’s a positive because our guys need to taste winning as much as possible.”

Whallon also applauded the labors of freshman Rodrigo Diaz-Valdes and junior Pat Wynne.

Responding to his team’s performance and the impending regular season finale against Vanguard, Whallon offered some reassuring thoughts.

“I think our team is a little bit down right now, feeling like they could have played better today. However, the reality is that we got the three points that we needed. There’s a mixed perspective on it, but we’ll take the positives, evolve as a team, and move forward to Vanguard.”

Currently, Concordia is sitting atop the GSAC standings with 24 points, having secured a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Biola and San Diego Christian place in second and third, having amassed 18 and 17 points respectively.

After the victory today, Westmont remains in fourth place with 15 points, Vanguard resides in fifth with 13, and the Master’s currently hold down the sixth and final playoff spot with nine points. Arizona Christian (six points) and Hope International (four points) have already been mathematically eliminated from GSAC tournament contention due to point differential and/or goal differential.

The Warrior’s date with Vanguard is set for this Saturday at three o’clock. The match is pivotal because whichever squad arises as the victor will be granted home field advantage in their first GSAC tournament match. In all likelihood, these two teams will face each other again in the first round of that tournament.