Warriors Advance to Quarterfinals

Submitted by: Kaci Mexico - November 30th, 2015

 

Jackie Lopez  ( Photo by Kaci Mexico)

Jackie Lopez ( Photo by Kaci Mexico)

By Kaci Mexico
November 30, 2015

It took a pair of back-to-back goals scored in under a minute for #8 Westmont (16-3-2) to prevail over #9 Grace (Ind.) (15-3-3) in a Round of 16 game of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Tournament. The final score was 2-0.

“My main word for them before the game was, ‘you have to come out with urgency and intensity in the first half and you have to set the tone of the game’,” explained head coach Chantel Cappuccilli. “I felt they did that in the first half. It was well done to get two early goals and dictate the momentum in the first half. In this tournament, you have to start each game that way.”

The first goal began in the 21st minute when senior Kaitlyn Swift, on the dribble, muscled her way past a Grace defender and bolted down the right sideline towards the end line. She then served a beautiful cross towards the back corner of the six-yard box. Sophomore Jackie Lopez arrived right when the ball did and volleyed it into the right-upper side of the goal for a one-time finish.

Forty seconds later, senior Kelsey Steck scored her 23rd goal of the season in an impressive individual showing. It began when Steck stripped the ball off of the foot of a Lancer defender at 25 yards out. She immediately accelerated towards the goal, with several Lancer defenders on her back. She beat two more lancer defenders while dribbling across the top of the 18-yard box until the Lancer goalkeeper rushed off of the goal line to confront her. She dove, and Steck touched the ball past her hands, calmly slipping the ball into the back of the net.

With this goal, Steck is tied for second, with Karin Sullivan (2003), for number of goals scored in a season.

“Grace picked up the pace in the second half and competed and battled to try and get a goal,” said Cappuccilli. “However, I feel like we were able to match the pace and close the game defensively. As a result we came away with a shutout.”

In the first half, the Warriors outshot the Lancers, 9-2, whereas in the second half, Grace outshot Westmont 6-4. A few extra shots, however, was all that the Westmont defense allowed – they did not give up any corner kicks the entire match.

With this victory, the Warriors will advance to the quarterfinals where they will play the #1 Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (18-1-2) at 11:00 a.m. CDT (9:00 a.m. PDT) on Wednesday, December 2. The Warriors have been the only team this year to bring down the Blue Raiders – defeating them by a score of 3-0 at Westmont in mid-October. According to an up-to-date weather forecast, it is expected to rain during game time, adding to the intensity of this fierce competition.

“I think having the day off is an advantage in order to regroup and have an opportunity to evaluate what we did well and an opportunity to sharpen some things we need to take care of before this next game,” explained Cappuccilli. “Lindsey is a heck of an opponent to play against in the quarterfinals. However, I know the girls are up for the challenge and it’s not one that deflates us by any means – it’s something that we rise to. Both of these schools have a lot of history in the NAIA and it is going to be a battle for who moves forward in the tournament – I am looking forward to it.”