“It was a hard end to a hard year,” said Westmont Men’s Soccer head coach Dave Wolf in response to a controversial ending to the Warriors’ first round Golden State Athletic Conference playoff loss to No. 11 California Baptist. For the Lancers (15-3) it was the first men’s soccer playoff win in school history.
With 6:19 remaining in regulation of a scoreless game, the Lancers were awarded a penalty kick when Tiburcio Casillas was fouled in the box by Peter Schmetz. Heitor Santarem took the penalty kick and aimed for the right-hand corner. Westmont keeper Matt McNab guessed the opposite direction and the Lancers went up 1-0.
The Warriors (8-5-5) thought they would receive a penalty kick with 2:30 remaining as a result of what appeared to be a hand ball in the box. But the center referee made no call despite the passionate urging of the Warrior bench.
“How do you say what you really want to say about a penalty kick given in the eighty-fifth minute of a playoff game because of a foul that CBU wasn’t responding to very vehemently?” asked Wolf. “And then what appears to be, from my perspective, a handball in the box that wasn’t called. The ball dropped straight down to the ground. If it comes off the chest the way the linesman explained it to me, it doesn’t drop down the way that it did.”
The game itself had been hard-fought by both teams. Each team had five shots on goal (excluding the penalty kick) and both had significant chances to score. Two of those changes came in the first half for the Warriors.
Doug Harrell got off the Warriors’ first shot on goal in the seventeenth minute, but it was saved by Lancer keeper Joey Pacheco. In the twenty-eighth minute, Nana Akyen took a free kick from twenty-two yards out, but the ball sailed over the goal. In the thirty-ninth minute, Harrison Hill passed the ball from the right side to Akyen who was charging down the middle of the field. Akyen fired from 25 yards but right at Pacheco.
In the eight-second minute, Isaac Thompkins was positioned at the far post and headed a cross toward the net. Unfortunately Pacheco was also positioned at the far post and snatched the ball from the air.
“I asked the team before the game to be men today,” said Wolf. “I wanted 20 men to go out on the field with, and I thought they were that today. From that vantage point, I couldn’t ask any more than I got today out of them. I thought they fought valiantly today.”
For four of the Warriors, the game marks the last time they will take the field for the Warriors – Dan Sargent, Scott Williams, Tony Niboli and Harrison Hill.
“The seniors gave everything they had to give,” said Wolf. “I look especially at Dan Sargent who had an incredible year. Harry had maybe his best game of the season. If you are going to go out, you want to go out playing as good as you can play, and I felt like our seniors did that. It won’t matter to them much right now, but it will as a little time passes.”
California Baptist advances to the semifinals on Saturday where they will take on #16 Azusa Pacific. The Cougars advanced by virtue of a 4-0 win over Hope International.