MSoc: Warriors locked up in scoreless draw

(ATHERTON, Calif.) More often than not, the men’s soccer teams of the Golden State Athletic Conference have found the Oaks of Menlo (8-5-3, 2-4-3) to be knotty. Of the five home games played by Menlo, three have ended in ties – including today’s game against Westmont (6-5-2, 3-3-1), which produced a scoreless braid.

Biola, which sits atop the GSAC standings and is ranked at #23, was the first victim in Menlo’s entangling tendencies. The Eagles suffered the same fate as the Warriors – no goals, just a tie.

The Master’s, ranked 17th, did manage a goal at Menlo, but gave one up as well, producing yet another contorted result.

San Diego Christian also felt the constriction of the Oaks’ branches; ending regulation with a 1-1 tally. The Hawks, however, escaped the tightening bonds with a golden goal in overtime to claim the only win of a GSAC team on the Oaks turf.

“I was disappointed not to get the three points today,” acknowledged Westmont head coach Dave Wolf, “It’s difficult to play on Menlo’s home field and it proved to be the case again today.”

The Warriors had their chances to avoid the snarled ways of the Oaks. In the first half, Austin Lack got past a defender and went one-on-one with Menlo’s goalkeeper Alex Coates-McDowall. Lack’s shot was on target, but Coates-McDowall denied Lack’s shot like gnarled wood denies purchase by a woodman’s axe.

In the second half, Asher Booth nearly delivered a decisive blow to the Oaks. But his header just missed the post, sailing harmlessly past the goal.

“Sometimes results look a little bit better a week or two down the road,” acknowledged Wolf. “Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It doesn’t feel great right now.”

The tie continued the Warriors’ road woes. Westmont has not secured a win in an opponent’s venue this season – though they do have two ties and a neutral-site win.

“Typically, we have done fairly well on the road,” said Wolf. “This year, we have just not been able to get over that hump,” acknowledged Wolf.

If the Warriors can reverse the trend and pick up a road win at William Jessup on Saturday, they will still have an opportunity to situate themselves well for the playoffs. Currently, Westmont sits in fifth place in the GSAC standings with 10 points (three points for a win, one for a tie). The Warriors are two points behind San Diego Christian who is in fourth, but have the opportunity to host the Hawks on the final day of the regular season.

The significance of finishing in third or fourth place in the standings is the opportunity to host a first round playoff game. Something the Warriors would very much prefer to do.

Westmont is three points behind The Master’s, which is in third place. The Mustangs, however, have played one more game than the Warriors. Should the two teams end the season all knotted up, Westmont would hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their 1-0 win over The Master’s early in the season.

How the GSAC standings will unfold is yet to be seen. In the entangled uncertainty of the GSAC standings, however, it’s nice to have a tiebreaker.