WSoc: Two quick goals lift Warriors into NAIA quarterfinals

ORANGE BEACH, Ala.—  Westmont scored two goals in a 40-second span and defeated  Grace (Ind.) 2-0 in a Round of 16 game of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Tournament.

Jackie Lopez volleyed a Kaitlyn Swift cross past the goalkeeper in the 21st minute and Kelsey Steck followed 40 seconds later with a superb individual effort.

“My main word for them before the game was, ‘You have to come out with urgency and intensity in the first half and you have to set the tone of the game’,” explained head coach Chantel Cappuccilli. “I felt they did that in the first half. It was well done to get two early goals and dictate the momentum in the first half. In this tournament, you have to start each game that way.”

The victory advances the Warriors (16-3-2) into a quarterfinal match against top-seeded Lindsay Wilson, Ky. (18-1-2) on Wednesday. The Warriors are the only team this year to bring down the Blue Raiders, defeating them 3-0 at Westmont in mid-October.

“Lindsey is a heck of an opponent to play against in the quarterfinals,” Westmont coach Chantel Cappuccilli said. “However, I know the girls are up for the challenge and it’s not one that deflates us by any means – it’s something that we rise to. Both of these schools have a lot of history in the NAIA and it is going to be a battle for who moves forward in the tournament. I am looking forward to it.”

Westmont’s first goal began when  Swift muscled her way past a Grace defender and bolted down the right sideline towards the end line. She then served a beautiful cross towards the back corner of the six-yard box. Lopez arrived right when the ball did and volleyed it into the right-upper side of the goal for a one-time finish.

Steck scored her 23rd goal of the season in an impressive individual showing. She stripped the ball off of the foot of a Lancer defender and immediately accelerated toward the goal, with several Lancer defenders on her back. She beat two more  defenders while dribbling across the top of the 18-yard box until the Lancer goalkeeper rushed off of the goal line to confront her. The goalkeeper dove, and Steck touched the ball past her hands and calmly slipped it into the back of the net.

The goal tied Steck with Karin Sullivan (2003) for second place on Westmont’s all-time list for goals in a season.

“Grace picked up the pace in the second half and competed and battled to try and get a goal,” said Cappuccilli. “However, I feel like we were able to match the pace and close the game defensively. As a result we came away with a shutout.”