MSoc: Incredible rally in vain for Westmont in GSAC Tournament

Rallying from a two-goal deficit while playing two-men down, Westmont Men’s Soccer (9-6-2) scored twice in the waning minutes of regulation to take Hope International into overtime of Friday’s first-round GSAC Tournament game. The Warriors held their ground in the first overtime, but finally succumbed to the Royals’ greater numbers, falling 4-3 in the second overtime period

Hope International scored in the 12th minute when Thales Serra shot from 35 yards out and found the top right netting. The Royals advanced their lead by one in the 65th minute off of a beautifully executed set piece. Jonathan Canales sent a free kick from 40 yards out to the front of the goal. Oleg Parent flicked the ball on with his head, redirecting it past Westmont keeper Josh Glover.

Down two goals, Westmont made some adjustments.

“Once the second goal was scored, we changed the shape a little bit and got an additional player forward, which was Timmy (Heiduk),” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “Then it was kind of mayhem. From there until the end, you are looking for set pieces and corners and balls into the box.

The challenge intensified when Matt Lariviere picked up his second yellow card, in the 72nd minute, resulting in his ejection from the game.

Just four minutes later, however, Westmont made its first mark on the scoreboard. Dash Wulterin, standing near the left side line. sent the ball to Blake Joyner near the middle of the field. Joyner forwarded it on to Heiduk as the freshman was breaking for the left post. Heiduk snuck the ball between the keeper and the post.

“Tim has a knack for producing in those kinds of moments,” said Wolf. “He showed a lot of composure in taking that chance. The bad news is that as a freshman, he may have been our most composed player. The lack of composure was part of the issue today – some of that was emotional, some of that was technical, some of that was verbal.”

Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Royals responded less than two minutes later when Serra struck again. From 20 yards out, Serra received the ball and then broke to his left to create space and get off a shot. This time, the ball found the left side of the netting.

“That was a moment where you could start transitioning mentally to the end of the match,” said Wolf. “The team obviously didn’t do that. It was remarkable what they did moving forward.”

Still down by two, Westmont lost another man when Austin Lack was charged with his second yellow card in the 84th minute.

Playing 11 against nine, however, wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle for the Warriors.

Westmont cut the lead to just one goal when Tanner Wolf lofted a free kick from 35 yards out into the Royals’ net. Then, with just over a minute to play in regulation, Wolf took a corner kick from the left side, finding the head of Genaro Hurtado who was lined up past the far post. Hurtado headed the ball back in front of the goal where Blake Holman connected to tie the score at three goals apiece.

Outnumbered, Westmont took a defensive strategy in the two overtime periods, seeking to force the game to go to penalty kicks.

“They only thing we were open to exploring offensively was that we had Jeremiah and Asher out wide,” said Wolf. “If we got a little bit of time on the ball, we could have tried to dump something into their areas because they are both quick. Maybe they win a foot race or turn a ball over or win a corner. But, other than that, it was about keeping our shape and trying to get to penalties.”

The Warriors’ defense held up throughout the first overtime and well into the second. However, in the 107th minute, Eduardo Zavala crossed a ball from the right side that spelled troubled for the Warriors.

Westmont’s Josh Constant got his head on the ball and redirected it slightly upward. Serra took advantage of the new trajectory with a diving header that resulted in the end of the game and the Warriors’ season.

Hope International advances to the semifinals to play Biola on Thursday afternoon.