Westmont College will begin its quest for an NAIA women’s soccer championship nearly 14 months after its last bid fell three matches short.
The Warriors, national quarterfinalists in 2019, will open the 2020 season five months late because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are scheduled to play their opener at Thorrington Field on Jan. 28 at 3:15 p.m. against Fresno Pacific.
Their previous season ended in a 2-1 defeat to eventual NAIA champion Keiser, Fla.
“Now that my players have seen the level of a national championship team, we know that we have what it takes to win our own title,” coach Jenny Jaggard said. “We are hungry and we are going after it.”
Westmont has scheduled three non-conference opponents so far, with subsequent matches at Point Loma on Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. and Biola on Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. All three are former Golden State Athletic Conference members who now play at the NCAA Division 2 level.
The Warriors will open GSAC play at home on March 4 against Hope International.
They have high hopes, returning most of the players from last year’s 16-4-1 team that won a GSAC co-championship. Leading the way is second-team NAIA All-America forward Bri Johnson, a senior who scored 15 goals and assisted four others last year.
“She made some adjustments to her game early in the season that paid big dividends in front of the goal the rest of the year,” Jaggard said. “As the GSAC Player of the Year, she clearly played a huge role on our team and she did a great job coping with the pressure to score goals in big moments.”
Senior Isabelle Berthoud (10 goals, two assists), junior Katie Stella (six goals, three assists), and sophomore Reese Davidson (four goals, one assist) also bring experience to Westmont’s attack.
Other returning All-GSAC players are senior goalkeeper Gabi Haw, senior defender Savannah Scott, and junior midfielder Teagan Matye.
Haw, who received NAIA All-America honorable mention for the second-straight year, recorded 10 shutouts while making 54 saves. She had a goals-against average of just 0.72 per game.
Three of Westmont’s defenders gained valuable experience as freshmen last season: Taylie Scott, Sadie Hill, and Willow Martin. Grace Duckens, another freshman, got 12 starts at forward.
It was also the rookie season for the Warriors’ head coach.
“Winning the GSAC regular season title in my first season felt amazing,” Jaggard said. “It was nice to see our team find results after working really hard and overcoming many of the hazards of being a young team led by a young head coach.
“It was a group effort and a moment that every coach looks forward to and works hard for.”
Westmont adds swim meets
Coach Jill Jones Lin has added two meets to the spring schedule of the Westmont women’s swimming team. The Warriors will play host to Biola and Simpson in a three-way meet on Jan. 30
Westmont, which started its swimming program just last year, will then challenge a pair of NCAA Division 1 schools when it travels to Loyola Marymount on Feb. 20 for a tri-meet with Pepperdine.
The Warriors hope to use the two meets to qualify swimmers for the NAIA National Championships set for Knoxville, Tenn., on March 3-6. Westmont’s league, the Pacific Coast Swim Conference, won’t host its championships until April 14-17.
Spectators will not be admitted to the meets because of COVID-19 concerns.