The Westmont men’s soccer team (4-6, 2-3 GSAC) was unable to overcome its struggles at home once again on Thursday, falling to Arizona Christian (10-1-2, 4-1-1) by a score of 1-0.
A 32nd minute goal from Arizona Christian was all the offense the game would provide, as the Warriors did not record a shot on goal past the 50th minute in a loss that puts them a game under .500 in conference play.
“We’re in a difficult moment right now,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “I feel for our guys because they fought like crazy today. Our guys did everything in their power to try and get back in this game, and it’s just one of those days where it doesn’t go your way.
“They don’t need me adding on any additional criticism today, because no one is more upset at this moment than the guys themselves.”
For the first 30 minutes of the opening half, the Warriors defense looked much more like their typical selves than last week, as the group led by Zach Godeck and Michael Palmer had yet to surrender a shot on goal.
During that first third of the match, Westmont was unable to capitalize on the defensive momentum, recording just one shot on goal off the foot of Landon Amaral. Memo Mendoza threatened on a handful of occasions, specifically with headers inside the six-yard box. Each time Mendoza found himself with a clean connection in front of the net, the ball bounced off of his head and into the crossbar, unable to find its way to the back of the net. Then, in the 32nd minute, Arizona Christian’s Tiago Soares turned around an otherwise lethargic half of offense for the Firestorm, when he sent in a shot in from nearly 30 yards out.
A slow developing play-turned quick fire from Soares resulted in a perfect shot that saw the left-footer sneak a ball inside the left post, past a diving Mans Ingvarson.
“That goal really came out of nowhere,” noted Wolf. “We looked at each other on the bench and said ‘did that really go in’? Unfortunately, it reinforced the narrative that we’re in right now, where no matter what we do, the ball just doesn’t seem to bounce our way.”
The Firestorm recorded just one other shot on goal during the half, but the Warriors had just two in total as well. With 45 minutes to play, Arizona Christian led Westmont 1-0.
Five minutes into the second half, Mendoza finally put a header on frame off of a cross from Matthew Morgan, but the ball soared directly into the arms of Arizona Christian’s keeper, Eddie Delgadillo. After continuously threatening with long crosses from Morgan and Godeck, the Warriors squandered opportunities without another threat inside the box until the final ten minutes of regulation.
In the 79th minute, Ingvarson was challenged with a shot from just below midfield off the foot of Nestor Serrano. Serrano launched a high-velocity shot with wicked top spin that made Ingvarson leap right at his goal line to corral the attempt off a bounce.
Following Ingvarson’s second save of the match, Westmont had 10 minutes to search for an equalizer.
In the 86th minute, Westmont was awarded a corner kick, but all the Warriors could muster was a pair of crosses inside the box that were cleared out by Arizona Christian. Then, twice in the 90th minute Westmont had opportunities via corner kicks, but again, neither opportunity resulted in anything but a clearance from the opposing defense.
After the full 90 minutes, Arizona Christian handed Westmont their fifth loss at home this season, this time by a score of 1-0 in favor of the Firestorm.
“I think we’re all searching right now,” said Wolf. “We’re searching for answers, combinations, and anything that can help turn the tide. From an attacking standpoint, execution is largely fueled by confidence. It’s no secret that our confidence level isn’t the highest right now, and that makes it difficult to put the ball in the net.
“On the positive side of things, we had some great contributions from some younger players. Michael Stull, Miguel Alvarado, and Martin Anguiano all made contributions that made me extremely pleased. Those guys came in ready to play and really helped us as we tried to knot things up.
“There was also an excellent performance from our back three today that doesn’t go unnoticed. Zach Godeck had a big bounce-back performance leading the way and there were a lot of things to like about the fight we showed.”
The club returns to action at 12:30 p.m. today when the team hosts Ottawa, Ariz., on Thorrington Field. The club will be celebrating senior day, with festivities taking place during halftime. Tickets are available on the Westmont Athletics website.
“Being able to get right back on the field is probably the best thing for us,” noted Wolf. “My hope is we can honor our seniors well and get back on the right side of the ledger. It’s going to take a lot from us, but I know we’re going to continue marching forward.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College