WSoc: Warriors work OT to win season opener

Renee Gonsalves finished Brooke Lillywhite’s free kick in the first overtime period, lifting No. 7-ranked Westmont to a 2-1 win over Viterbo of Wisconsin in the Warriors’ season opener on Saturday at Thorrington Field.

The Warriors rallied from 1-0 deficit in the first half.

“I’m proud of the team for winning the second half and coming from behind,” said head coach Chantel Cappuccilli, who earned her first victory as a collegiate head coach. “It was a bit slow in the first half. We needed to a better job of switching the point of attack faster and catching them in transition. But, we showed resilience in the second half. I was proud of the players for working themselves out of that situation.”

Viterbo went up 1-0 on a goal be Cait Michichich.  The senior midfielder from Westmont, Illinois, received a pass just beyond midfield and beat her defender on the dribble to the goal. Her shot found the back of the net and put the V-Hawks in the driver’s seat.

The Warriors controlled possession most of the game – outshooting the V-Hawks 25 to 10 and placing 10 shots on goal compared to just two by Viterbo. However, the most important stat remained 1-0 until late into the second half. With the clock running down and the crowd growing restless, the Warriors on the field stepped up their intensity.

In the 80th minute, that intensity paid off with a goal by Jackie Lopez from the right side of the box.

“I am so happy that Jackie had the confidence to hit the ball from that difficult angle,” said Cappuccilli. “At halftime, we talked about players having an idea before they go forward. I didn’t want them to just run at the back; I wanted them to have an idea of going to goal. Whether that was beating a player one-v-one and getting a shot off, I wanted them to know that before they actually received the ball.

“Jackie did just that. She took her player on one-v-one and was able to hit a difficult shot, near post. The keeper was leaning because she thought it was going across the goal face. It’s a tough ball to come back on at the near post. Jackie hit it with just the right amount of pace.”

The golden goal came in the 99th minute of play after a foul was committed by Viterbo just to the right of the box.

“Brooke (Lillywhite) stepped up and wanted to take the free kick from outside the box,” said Cappuccilli. “When you have someone who wants to take that kick with confidence, you’ve got to let them do it. I walked over near to where she was and said, ‘take a breath and pick somebody out.’ Brooke was able to pick out Renee (Gonsalves).

“I have never seen Renee get up in the air that high. She got over everybody in the defensive line and all she had to do was redirect the ball at the net. I’m very happy for Renee, stepping into the center back position as a sophomore and getting a big goal.”