Westmont women’s soccer team in championship game

Westmont women’s soccer team in championship game

It came down to a shootout, but the No. 16 Westmont women’s soccer team (10-1-4) has advanced to today’s championship game of the 2021 Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament. 

The Warriors benefited from an equalizing goal by junior forward Grace Duckens in the 56th minute of their match Thursday against The Master’s (9-3-5) that eventually forced the penalty kicks.

“That has been the story of this team, this season — the grind,” said Westmont head coach Jenny Jaggard. “There have been a lot of games this season when we have dug ourselves a hole and had to come out of it. 

“I am proud of them for responding. I wish they wouldn’t go flat in these moments and give teams those opportunities, but they do know how to respond. I am super proud of the battle.”

That hole resulted from a goal in the 28th minute by Jordyn Bingaman, less than two minutes after she entered the game. Brandi Meyer crossed the ball from the right side and found Bingaman inside the six-yard box breaking for the goal. Binghaman’s left-footed shot from a yard out found the underside of the top netting to put the Mustangs ahead.

Down 1-0 at intermission, Jaggard was eager to see how her team would react to the deficit.

“That was what you are looking for as a coach,” said Jaggard. “Are they going to come out like they are defeated, or are they going to come out like their hair is on fire and on a serious mission? This team responds. That is a huge piece of being a playoff team. Obviously, if we could score some more goals, that would alleviate some pressure too, but they obviously have a mentality that doesn’t stop. That is the important part of this team today.”

While Westmont outshot The Master’s in both halves, the intensity with which the Warriors played in the second half was represented by the margin of opportunities. Westmont held an 8-4 shot advantage in the opening frame, then increased their offensive output in the second half with a 9-2 differential.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Teagan Matye dribbled the ball from beyond the midfield stripe down the middle of the field. About 25 yards out, Matye passed the ball to Shayna Stock on the left-hand side. Stock settled the ball, then served it into the six-yard box as both Reese Davidson and Duckens were breaking toward the goal.

Davidson, one-touched the ball back to Duckens with her left foot who needed just one touch from her right foot to put it past the keeper.

Neither team produced another goal through the final 34 minutes of the second half, nor either 10-minute overtime period. As a result, the game officially was declared a tie. 

In postseason play, however, one team needs to advance, which is decided by penalty kicks.

Westmont went first in the shootout with Davidson and The Master’s Emma Hopkins each making their attempts. Daisy Alvarez for the Warriors and Kyndel Borman for the Mustangs followed suit, resulting in a 2-2 score.

Katie Stella made the Warriors’ third attempt before Ariana Romero, the Mustangs’ keeper, became a shooter. Romero’s shot went wide left, resulting in a 3-2 lead for the home team.

After Ande Siegel converted her penalty kick to give Westmont a 4-2 lead, The Master’s Payton Williams was faced with having to make her shot or Westmont would win the shootout. Williams did just that making the score 4-3.

Karly Kingsley then had an opportunity to win the shootout for the Warriors, but had her shot saved by Romero, leaving the score at 4-3.

Elizabeth Radmilovic then faced another do-or-die situation for the Mustangs, and she too kept hopes alive for The Master’s, resulting in a 4-4 score.

Taylie Scott was called upon next for the Warriors and made her shot, to continue putting the pressure on The Master’s. 

Hannah Burke took the third must-make shot for the Mustangs. Burke’s shot went head-high toward the center of the net. Westmont keeper Kailey Meyer, who had moved slightly to her left, was able to reach back with both hands and knock down the ball, preventing it from entering the goal.

With the shootout’s outcome decided 5-4, the Warriors rushed the field to congratulate Meyer and celebrate advancing to today’s final.

“We have done a lot of penalty kick practice, so that was not an arbitrary alignment,” noted Jaggard. “We actually practiced at this same time yesterday, with the sun in our eyes, toward that goal. So, there is a little bit of home field advantage there. It is so easy to get super stressed in those moments and change your mind halfway through. Each of our shooters just picked their corner and put it in.

“Kailey has done a fantastic job of challenging us to get better at those penalty kicks because she reads the shooters and saves the attempts. Obviously, for her to be able to make that final save was exciting. She just grinds in practice. For her to get her moment to shine was big. She never gets stats because our team doesn’t get shot on. It’s fun for her to get to be the hero.”

Westmont will host the Royals of Hope International (12-0-2) in the championship game at 1 p.m. today. Tickets can be purchased at athletics.westmont.edu/tickets.

Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.

email: dmason@newspress.com

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