WSoc: Lillywhite’s five goals sets Westmont scoring record

ROCKLIN – It ended with a 6-0 win by #6 Westmont Women’s Soccer (13-3, 6-2 GSAC) over William Jessup (6-11, 1-8). It ended with a recorded setting performance as Brooke Lillywhite tallied five of the Warriors six goals on seven shots. It ended with at least a share of the GSAC Regular Season Championship.

It started before the team took the field. It started in a team room down from the athletic offices of Westmont’s host. It started with singing that drew the William Jessup coaches and administrators out of their offices.

“I don’t know if they can play soccer, but they can sure sing,” quipped one.

“We sing Psalm 23 before almost every home game,” said Westmont senior forward Kaci Mexico. “Soccer can be pretty mental and you get fear that creeps in wondering if you will play well today. You sing that song with words like, “whom should I fear” and it is a cool moment of getting re-centered and remembering why we are here.”

“It brought us back to reality and centers the soul of our team – calm and composed,” said senior Mallory Mitchell of singing the song.

The song ended, the door opened, the William Jessup administrators scattered before they could be seen and the team filed out of the team room and headed to the field to warm up.

Somewhere along the way, Westmont assistant coach Dan Ribbens pulled aside sophomore midfielder Brooke Lillywhite.

“Dan talked to me before the game and pumped me up,” reported Lillywhite after the game. “He told me I needed to stay focused, connect my passes and work with my teammates around me and that playing good would come.”

“Dan will have to talk with Brooke before every game,” teased Westmont head coach Kristi Kiely.

Whether it was the inspirational singing, the inspirational words, or a combination of the two, the harmony on the field was apparent and the effect was immediate.

Lillywhite hit the first high note in the second minute of the game off of a rebound to give Westmont an early 1-0 lead. In the fourth minute, she reprised the goal, this time off a cross from Mitchell.

In the 21st minute, Lillywhite snatched the ball from a defender, then fired from the top of the 18 yard box to complete a hat trick A mere 32 seconds later, Tiffany Dimaculangan crossed a ball from right to the far post and Lillywhite headed it into the lower right corner.

In just 21 minutes and 18 seconds, she had tied the Warrior record for most goals in a game. “Peich (Coach Kiely) told me at halftime that I had tied the record,” said Lillywhite. “In the second half, I was looking for (the record) a little bit, but I was also trying to set up my teammates.”

After coming out in the 32nd minute, Lillywhite did not re-enter the game until the 72md minute – meaning that her record setting performance came in just 50 minutes of play.

In the meantime, freshman Grace DeGroot scored her first collegiate goal in the 55th minute. DeGroot received a cross from Jackie Lopez in the right corner and headed it in from six yards out.

The crescendo did not come until the final minute of play. Senior center back Sophie Judd took a shot that vibrated the right upright and bounced back into the field of play. In fact, it bounded to the feet of Lillywhite who fired it into an empty net with 00:59 showing on the clock.

“I wish Sophie would have gotten that goal because it would have been great for her to score,” said Lillywhite. “Sophie is such a great leader on this team. Breaking the record is really exciting and means a lot, but Peich has taught us that it is more of a team. Every person has a part of that record.”

“The last time someone scored four goals was on Senior Day in 2001 by Emily Blackerby,” said Kiely who witnessed the event as a member of the team. “It is exciting to have it come full circle with one of my players.

“Brooke was precise today – in the right place and the right time, making stuff happen and putting the ball away. I was proud of her and proud of every player that stepped on the field and even those who couldn’t play today. Soccer is a sport where you have to have a lot of individuals who come together, and I think they have done that.”

The regular season championship, or co-championship if Vanguard wins its final game on Saturday, is the first since 2003 when Kiely was a member of the team.

“I think it is a physical symbol of all the work we have put in over the last four years,” said Mitchell of the championship. “As much as we don’t dwell on titles and the label of things, it is nice to be recognized for the work we have put in. Not just us, but those from previous years who have already graduated. They are also a part of this.”

The Warriors’ win also clinches the number one seed for the Warriors in the GSAC Tournament and gives Westmont both a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the tournament.

“Playing at home is a completely different ball game,” said Lillywhite. “To have our fans and parents there means the world. It is nice to have the home atmosphere. Our field is beautiful because the crews take great care of it. It means a lot to play at home.”

“Our fans are amazing,” added Mitchell. “It’s not just the team on the field, but it is the whole school pushing us toward a GSAC championship and hopefully a national championship.”

The Warriors will host the semifinal game on Friday, November 7, giving them nearly two weeks to rest and arrange the orchestration for the postseason.