Westmont coughs up two-goal lead on Vanguard

Despite scoring two goals in the first six and one-half minutes of the game, Westmont Men’s Soccer (3-3, 0-1 GSAC) suffered a 3-2 home loss to Vanguard (3-5-1, 1-0 GSAC) in Wednesday’s conference opener.

“When you are playing at home and you are up 2-0, you should find a way to see out a game like that,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “It was an opportunity that slipped through our hands.”

The Warriors went up 1-0 just 75 seconds into the game. Nana Akyen received the ball on the left flank and was fouled near the 18 yard mark. Gerald Ben took the free kick that was awarded the Warriors and launched a ball over the wall of defenders and past the Lion’s keeper to record his seventh goal of the season.

Five minutes later, the Warriors scored again. Isaac Thompkins crossed the ball to Akyen who then drilled the ball in the net for his sixth goal of the year. Ben and Akyen are responsible for all of the Warriors’ goals this year.

It appeared that the Warriors were headed for a 2-0 halftime lead, but with 22 second remaining in the first half, Vanguard’s Bryan Ponce recorded the first goal for the Lions. A corner kick that was headed out be a Warrior defender found the feet of Ponce, who he finished the opportunity.

“For me, the disappointment today is that one team kept their composure and one didn’t,” said Wolf. “Vanguard could have gone south so quick being down 2-0, but they didn’t. They hung in and stayed the course.

“The goal right before halftime was big. It might have been a different emotional tone for them at halftime (if they had not scored). As they worked back into the game, we lost our way emotionally. In the end, that was the reason for the result. We have actually been a team that has done well in that area, but we did not do a great job today, and it was costly.”

In the fifty-seventh minute of the game, Chris Popke produced the equalizer on a similar play to the first goal. A deep pass from Vanguard was headed away by the Warriors’ back line. However, once again the Lions were the recipient of the headed ball, this time in the person of Popke.

Seven minutes later, Vanguards’ Brenden Castle was fouled in the box as he dribbled toward the goal. Kyle O’Brien took the penalty shot that was awarded and ran the ball along the ground to the left side netting for the score.

With twenty-six minutes left to play, the Warriors found themselves in the position of pursuer. But their plans to even the score once again took a hit when Akyen was forced to leave the game in the seventy-fourth minute after sustaining an injury to his right leg.

“We didn’t know if it was a cramp or a strain,” said Wolf. “We felt like it was a little bit more like a strain, which is why we did not put him back in. Nana is a very valuable player to us and he wanted to go back in. While it was tempting to put him back in, we decided that we should leave him off.”

While the Warriors had several opportunities over the next sixteen minutes, they were unable to find the tying goal.

“There were a couple of guys I was pleased with,” said Wolf. “Brandon Talsma helped us when he came on. We have had a hard time solving left back. He is the fourth guy we have played there in six games. He and Isaac Veenstra have had to be very patient to get their chance. I thought both gave us good minutes today and I am proud of their attitudes and the way they handled themselves.”

Next up for the Warriors is a road trip to El Cajon to take on the Hawks of San Diego Christian (5-2, 1-0 GSAC) on Saturday. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.