WSoc: Adams nets game-winner for Warriors

(LA MIRADA, Calif.) The #8 Westmont Warriors (13-3-2, 7-1-2) earned their ticket to the Golden State Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament Championship game when they restrained the #10 Vanguard Lions (14-5-1, 7-2-1) with a first period overtime goal in today’s semifinal contest. The final score was 2-1.

The Warriors were quick to go to goal when they took three of their four first half shots within the first ten minutes of the game. This shooting streak came to an end and Vanguard responded with four shots in the subsequent 11 minutes.

“I think our presence in the first half wasn’t there,” reflected head coach Chantel Cappuccilli. “Stylistically Vanguard does a good job of making a mess of how we try to play and that is not easy to adapt to. I think that is a bit of what happened in the first half and today there was a challenge in adjusting to the game. We knew it was going to be like that but that still doesn’t mean that it was easy to adjust.”

In the first half, the Lions held the Warriors to a total of four shots – a low amount compared to their 9.7 first half shooting average.

With three minutes remaining in the first half, the Lions pounced on an opportunity to end the half on top. The first goal of the game began when Nicole Dunn found the foot of Maddison Farell with a pass towards the right side of the goal box. Farell received the ball in stride, took an advancing touch, and slipped it into the lower left corner of the goal.

In the second half, it took the Warriors 14 1/2 minutes to achieve the equalizer.

The GSAC Player of the Year, senior Kelsey Steck, validated this honor when she scored off of a precise through ball from junior Brooke Lillywhite. Steck made a perfectly timed run from the right sideline in behind the Vanguard defense. She received the ball in stride, took a forward touch into the goal box, and finished with a sliding shot to slip the ball just past the goal keeper into the lower left side of the goal.

“Kudos to Kelsey for getting the goal,” praised Cappuccilli. “Her ability to time her runs and get in behind their defense was extremely effective for us this game.

Cappuccilli reflected on the team’s response after being down a goal in a high-stakes game

“Our ability to come back from behind in the second half in this kind of setting and situation shows this team’s heart and resiliency. One thing we said at halftime was that ultimately we can give them the tools in our practice sessions to be successful, but it is a decision made upon the women as a unit to collectively agree that that’s what they are going to do. In the second half they committed to doing what we are good at.”

Both teams continued their bout in golden goal overtime.

In the third minute of the first overtime period, the Warriors were nearly overtaken by the Lions when Vanguard’s Madison Lopp took a lofted shot from 18 yards out that soared high above the head of senior goal keeper Lauren Dorr. With great timing, Dorr leaped and punched the ball straight up and away. On its way down the ball hit the crossbar, rebounded and hit the bar once again. On its second decent, Dorr leapt, this time grabbing the ball and completing her fourth save of the game.

“Overall, she (Dorr) came up in some very big moments for us,” explained Cappuccilli. “That is all you can really ask for from a senior goalkeeper and I am very proud of the kind of presence she had in those moments.”

After 97 minutes of play, sophomore Destinee Adams scored the game winner when she fired off an on-frame shot from the middle of the goal box. The shot deflected off of a Vanguard defender, changing direction and ultimately eluding Vanguard’s goalkeeper.

In the second semifinal game, #13 Biola (15-2-3, 7-1-2) defeated Menlo (8-8-5, 4-5-1) 2-0 to advance.

The Warriors, who tied Biola 2-2 earlier this season and were conference co-champions, will face the Eagles in the Championship game this Saturday at Biola at 4:00 p.m.

“We have the same mentality and same focus headed into Saturday’s game,” noted Cappuccilli. “At this point in season nothing is guaranteed and everything needs to be earned. We are very thankful for the opportunity to play in the finals, but it is another game where we have to come out and be ready to earn a win. Nothing will be given to us.”