WSoc: Westmont wins first GSAC tourney title for Kiely

Goals by Tiffany Dimaculangan and Sofia Smati led fifth-ranked Westmont to a 2-1 win over No.10 Vanguard in the championship match of the Golden State Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament on Friday at Thorrington Field.

The title gives Westmont (15-3) the GSAC’s automatic berth into the NAIA National Championship.

“I am thankful that we won in the way that we did,” said Westmont head coach Kristi Kiely. “It gives us a lot of momentum moving into what will no doubt be a tough game next Saturday. I am really proud of the seniors. This is the product of several years of hard work by a lot of individuals.”

The Warriors, who are expected to host a first round game, will learn their opening national tournament opponent on Monday.

The Warriors took control of the game early, outshooting the Lions 11-1 in the first half and dominating time of possession. Westmont was rewarded for the quality of its play with a goal in the 34th minute. Kaci Mexico headed a ball from about 22 yard out to Mallory Mitchell who was about 20 yards out in the center of the field.

With her back to the goal, Mitchell attempted to flick a ball behind her but instead drew a foul. Dimaculangan was called upon to take the free kick. She found a hole between four defenders in front of her and one to her left and scored her sixth goal of the season.

“Tiffany is one of the best three players in the country,” asserted Kiely. “I think she is fantastic. There are a number of players who were great today. Tiff has been the most consistent player this year – in some big ways and on some big stages, like today”

Westmont scored its second goal in the 61st minute on what Kiely called, “one of the best goals I have ever seen.”

Dimaculangan settled a ball on the left side and then passed it to Smati in the center of the field. Smati passed it on to Brooke Lillywhite on her right and then broke for the goal. Lillywhite quickly passed it back to Smati who scored from seven yards out.

“We were all mesmerized,” said Kiely of the goal’s quality. “Mallory (Mitchell) said that even though she was on the field, she was just standing there watching. To have that many people involved and moving it that quickly while anticipating where each other are going to be takes good players who play a lot together.”

Vanguard’s goal came in the 76th minute when Liliana Ruiz intercepted a pass and scored from 15 yards out.

The tournament championship is the first for Kiely as a coach, a fact that she downplayed. “This is a program with a rich tradition. While it is exciting for this group to do it together, this is just a part of the expectation here,” she said. “It is an assumption that we are going to go out and perform well. It is really sweet to be a part of something that has consistently been successful on a national level. I feel like we are just following in the footsteps of what has been done for three decades.”

Kiely did note that this championship came in a year in which she had a baby (Maya, born in early July).

“As a new mom, I could not have done this without my husband (Jeremiah), (Maya’s babysitters) Deanna (Odell) and Jodi (Martinez), my staff and the team. Whenever anyone said something negative about me, the players got their ‘momma bear’ on and defended me.”

The NAIA Championship tournament consists of 31 teams, 30 of which will play a first round game on Saturday, November 22 at campus locations across the United States.