WSoc: Westmont can’t upset No. 1 Lindsey Wilson

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – After a largely successful season, #8 Westmont (16-4-2) fell to #1 Lindsey Wilson in one of today’s quarterfinal games in the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship Tournament. The final score was 4-2. After 15 minutes of equal possession, Lindsey Wilson’s Lyana Perez scored the first goal of the game from the right corner of the 18 yard box with a rocket shot into the upper right side netting of the goal. Characteristically, with only 12 seconds left in the half, Westmont responded to the deficit with a goal of their own. After a handball in the box, Westmont was awarded a free kick from the top of the 18 yard box and sophomore Brooke Lillywhite lofted the ball just beneath the crossbar beyond the reach of the Lindsey Wilson goalkeeper.

“I don’t think there was much of a change in the way we approached the game, even after we initially got scored on,” explained head coach Chantel Cappuccilli. “I felt like we came out after that and actually had the better percentage of possession on the ball, which shows we were willing to fight for it. Again, we were not content with being down 1-0 so I am very proud of them to get a goal in the last few seconds of the first half. I felt like Brooke stepped up and hit that confidently, which sent us into halftime in a good place.”

The two teams remained tied for the first four minutes of the second half until Lindsey Wilson took back the lead in the 49th minute when they scored off of a counter attack. It began when Isobel Dalton quickly advanced with the ball into the Warriors’ defensive half and slipped the ball in behind the defense to Amanda Kander. Kander finished with a slotted shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.

Yet again, the Warriors answered back with an equalizer in the 64th minute. Similar to a significant number of other Westmont goals, this goal came off of a corner kick taken by senior Angela Brown. Brown’s corner kick soared over the heads of several Lindsey Wilson defenders and bounced, untouched, in the center of the goal box. Freshman Hailey Parker capitalized with a composed, one time finish into the right upper side of the goal. Cappuccilli commented on her team’s performance that lead up to the 2-2 score that they attained with this goal.

“I think coming out in the second half we needed to do a better job of minimizing our defensive mistakes and so our ability to keep our feet was important,” noted Cappuccilli. “It just so happened that when we didn’t, they were able to take advantage of their opportunities, but again we responded and I expected nothing less.”

The game remained tied for three minutes and then Linsey Wilson took the lead for the third time of the game – only this time it was a lead that they managed to maintain. In the 67th minute, Lindsey Wilson was awarded a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box and Yvonne Ploeg hit the ball around the Warriors’ wall and into the right side of the goal.

Eleven minutes later Ploeg scored again, this time off of the rebound of her initial 20-yard free kick. Ploeg’s free kick was blocked by a Westmont wall but she converted the rebound into a goal with a rocket of a shot into the upper right hand side of the goal to make the score 4-2.

In the remaining time, the Warriors did not relent – they had a few significant opportunities on goal, but ultimately could not close the gap.

“The two free kicks that they had were well struck – she did a good job to finish those,” reflected Cappuccilli. “I do feel like there were a couple calls that didn’t go our way today that potentially could have made a difference in the game. Ultimately, we scored enough goals to close the game; we just needed to be more purposeful with our defending. I thought it was a very competitive battle of a game. Overall it is a disappointment not to advance but at the same time there is still a lot to be proud of.”

Cappuccilli continued with her thoughts on the season. “I think this season, with a smaller roster, we utilized everybody and maximized our efforts in each individual that we had. I feel like we had a very talented group this year. I think before this season there was a lot of question as to what is this going to look like this year. We had just graduated eight seniors who got a lot of playing time, and also had a new head coach. I think that these women were able to change people’s perception of what this year was going to look like.”

Capuccilli also reflected on the leadership and contributions of this year’s senior class. “I think that they just took ownership this season when it was needed and they did a really good job with that. Each of them knew their roll and was able to carry that out in a very unique situation. It was a beautiful last year for them.”

The Warriors end this season with a total of 16 wins, four losses, and two ties. They won the GSAC regular season title, they won the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship, and had a NAIA National Championship quarterfinals showing. They have had a total of 12 players score. They have a team total of 64 goals on the season – which puts them in eighth in the Westmont Women’s Soccer season record book for number of goals scored.

Cappuccilli ended with a positive note about the future of the program. “The future looks bright for the program,” said Cappuccilli. “There are a lot of players that are coming back next year that saw significant minutes this year, so I think that’s a positive that we are rolling in the right direction. Moving forward, we build off of what we created this season and we keep going because that’s what you have to do.”