Despite a goal by Gerald Ben in the fiftieth minute that gave Westmont Men’s Soccer (5-6-1, 2-4-1 GSAC) a 1-0 lead, the Warriors fell to The Master’s (6-8-1, 2-4-1) by a score of 2-1 on Tuesday afternoon in a Golden State Athletic Conference game at Thorrington Field.
“If a lost can be remarkable, that was a remarkable loss,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “To lose that game was stunning.”
The Warriors controlled possession for most of the game and led in shots (17-7), shots on goal (8-4) and corner kicks (4-3), but on the stat line that matters most, The Master’s came away the winner.
“I thought that in the first half we were superb with the exception of no goals to show for it,” said Wolf. “There was the missed penalty kick and at least one other chance that sticks in my mind as a pretty good one. We have not had many games that statistically look like that. To finally have one that looks fairly well weighted in our favor makes the loss shocking.”
The Warrior score came less than five minutes into the second half. Nana Akyen delivered the ball to Ben in the middle of the field, setting him up to go one-on-one with the keeper. When The Master’s Andrew Bussell dove too soon for the ball, Ben dinked the ball out of his grasp and then touched it into an open net.
“After our goal was scored, it felt like we lost our way a little bit,” said Wolf. “After one team scores in a soccer game that is typically were you will see a momentum shift.”
The Master’s scored in the seventy-third minute off of a corner kick opportunity. Julio Barrios delivered the corner kick past the mass of players assembled in front of the goal. Austin Michelson, who was diagonally charging toward the net from the far side, kicked the ball in mid-air into the far side netting for the score.
Less than four minutes later, The Master’s was awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the box. Taylor Shahi made the kick, thereby giving the Mustangs their winning goal.
In other Golden State Athletic Conference action, Hope International (9-5-1, 3-3-1) handed Biola (8-5-1, 4-3) a 1-0 loss and #4 Concordia (13-1-1, 7-0) outdueled Vanguard (5-7-3, 3-2-2) by a mark of 2-1. As a result, Westmont finds itself in a tie for sixth place with The Master’s, each of which have seven points in the standings (three points for a win, one for a loss). San Diego Christian (7-4-1, 3-2-1) and Hope International are tied for fourth place with 10 points each. Vanguard has eleven points and claims third place in the standings. Concordia sits atop the conference with 21 points, nine points ahead of second place Biola. With three games left, Concordia has already clinched at least a share of the regular season conference title.
The top six teams will advance to the GSAC Playoffs which start two weeks from Wednesday. Over the three remaining regular season games, Westmont will need to move past The Master’s in the conference standings in order to qualify for postseason play. Because of today’s result, The Master’s now holds the tiebreaker with Westmont should the two teams finish the season tied in the standings.
“Before the game, I said to the team, today we will know if we are a team that can push for the top half of the league or if we are a team that will have to scrap for survival,” said Wolf. “Obviously, in the end, we ended up the latter. That is what faces us. Playing in the survival mode is a hard way to have to play this sport. We could have taken a nice step in the direction of not being that team today. The fact that we didn’t is shocking. I haven’t often felt shocked and numb by a loss, but I do today.”
The Warriors will look to turn things around on Saturday when they host San Diego Christian at three o’clock back on the pitch of Thorrington Field.