Westmont College will be Tournament Central this weekend, with three big events coming to the Montecito campus.
When sports information director Ron Smith said it was “a real blessing” that the Warriors’ men’s soccer team got a No. 3 seed for the NAIA National Tournament, he meant it personally:
The top seeding gave Westmont a direct berth into the final rounds of the NAIA Tournament in Irvine, giving Smith one last event to staff. He already has to figure out how to run the operations for NAIA Tournaments in women’s soccer and volleyball, as well as a preseason women’s basketball tournament and a single men’s home game.
WARRIORS GET A BREAK
The Westmont men’s soccer team was seeded No. 3 in the NAIA National Tournament and will get free pass to the final site at the Great Park in Irvine, which is being hosted by the GSAC. That also gives it a two-week wait before its next match.
The Warriors (13-2-1) will play on Dec. 3 against the winner of the Oskaloosa Bracket, which is being hosted by William Penn of Iowa (15-5). Penn will play the winner of the match between Hastings, Neb. (16-2-2) and Friends of Kansas (17-2-1).
“It is reflective of a good body of work,” coach Dave Wolf said. “When you get to this phase of the season, everything is scrutinized very closely, so you have to believe that it is a real seed.”
VAQUERO MEN EARN BID
SBCC (10-4-5), which placed fourth in the WSC North, still had enough power points to finish No. 9 in the Southern Cal rankings to earn its third-straight trip to Saturday’s first round of the regional playoffs.
The Vaqueros will learn their first-round opponent and playing site today.
WARRIORS TO HOST NAIA
Westmont College is getting another chance to defend its home turf in a post-season women’s soccer tournament. The Warriors, who lost in last week’s GSAC Tournament final to Vanguard, 1-0, have received a bid to play host to the first two rounds of the NAIA National Tournament.
“We’re just kind of looking this week to regather ourselves and get stronger from that loss,” coach Jenny Jaggard said. “It was a little bit of a disappointment, but we’re really excited because the news just came up this morning that we will be hosting the first round of NAIAs.”
No. 24 Oregon Tech (13-3-3) will face Marymount (10-9-1) on Friday at 11 a.m. in the first round of the Santa Barbara Bracket. The winner will take on Westmont (14-3-1), the No. 7 national seed, on Saturday at 11 a.m.
The winner of the Santa Barbara Bracket will advance to the NAIA Final Site in Orange Beach, Ala.
VAQUEROS STREAK INTO PLAYOFFS
SBCC, which went just 4-6-1 to start the season, caught fire in WSC North play to go 9-1-2 to capture its third-straight title and earn a No. 7 ranking in the Southern Cal power points.
“That means we should get a home game for the playoffs on Saturday,” sports information specialist Dave Loveton said.
The Vaqueros (12-6-3) will be making their 10th consecutive trip to the playoffs under coach John Sisterton.
NAIA BOUND FOR MURCHISON
Westmont had to post an impressive sweep at wild-and-woolly Menlo in the GSAC Tournament final to earn a home match in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament. The Warriors (25-6) have drawn Point, Georgia (24-9) for their 2 p.m. opener on Saturday.
Coach Ruth McGolpin did find a good way to get her team ready for the challenge Menlo.
“The crowd there was crazy, with guys with no shirts on and with ties — I mean, it was an environment that is hard to replicate,” she said. “Our last week in practice, I had crowd music playing on the speakers, and we did a lot of mental imagery.”
She’s looking for the Murchison Gym Maniacs to give her team a boost of its own.
“There are a lot of things going on at Westmont, but we are there at 2 o’clock on Saturday,” McGolpin said.
The winner on Saturday will advance to the NAIA Final Site at the Tyson Event’s Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The 32-team tournament consists of three days of pool play on Dec. 3-5, followed by a 16-team single elimination bracket on Dec. 6-7.
LOOKING TO REBOUND
UCSB’s 82-81 home defeat to Rice — a game the Gauchos led by as many as 22 points in the second half — only hurts when they laugh. So assistant coach John Rillie made everybody laugh during Monday’s Athletic Round Table press luncheon.
“The NCAA passes a lot of waivers on different things,” Rillie began. “We’re trying to pass one for playing just 20 minutes.”
The Gauchos (1-2) would be 3-0 if games ended at halftime, and that would include a victory at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. They were up by 20 at half on Saturday against Rice.
“We have a very talented team,” Rillie said. “We’re going to have some teething problems because when you’re a talented team, everyone thinks they’ve got the answers. We’ve just got to go through the waves.
“We get to redo that on Wednesday at Oregon State, which is a great team. They may be Top 25 by Wednesday, so for us that’s a great challenge. Our guys will be motivated.”
WARRIORS OFF TO 5-0 START
The Westmont men’s basketball team has yet to lose after five games despite a lineup that features no one taller than 6-foot-6.
“Dream big, think big, and that’s what we’ve had to do,” coach John Moore said. “We have three guards who are about 5-11, and they’re very, very good basketball players.”
The Warriors will travel to Occidental College tonight.
“That’s where Barrack Obama went to school,” Moore said. “Then we come back on Friday (at 8 p.m.) and play Maine Fort Kent. I have no idea who went to school there.”
FEELING LIKE MARCH AT WESTMONT
Westmont College is planning a dress rehearsal for next March’s NAIA National Women’s Basketball Tournament.
“The next three weeks for us are going to basically feel like we’re in the national tournament,” coach Kirsten Moore said. “We have four top-10 teams in the country all coming here.
The Best Western Plus Inn Carpinteria Classic will bring three small-college powerhouses to Westmont’s Murchison Gym on Friday and Saturday.
“We’re bringing in a team from Texas called Our Lady of the Lake, they went to the (NAIA) Final Four last year,” Warriors coach Kirsten Moore said. “They return almost everyone.
“We also have The Masters University, and they are top-five in the country. And then Antelope Valley, who is top-10 in Division 2.”
GOOD START FOR UCSB MEN
UCSB’s 3-0, record in duel meets for men’s swimming includes a signature win.
“We started out with a big win for our program over Utah, which is Pac-12, power-five school,” coach Matt Macedo said. “That felt really good and really set the tone for the year.”
UCSB’s women are 2-1 with its lone loss coming to UCLA.
WARRIORS MAKING A SPLASH
Women’s swimming is making its debut at Westmont College and the Warriors are already sending athletes to the NAIA Nationals.
“We’ve already qualified five relays for nationals in Knoxville, Tenn. next year and we’ve had one individual qualifier,” coach Jill Jones Lin said. “My freshman, Bailey Lemmon, should qualify in the 50 freestyle. She’s nationally ranked at 11th place in the 50 free and 14th in the 100 back.”
Westmont is ranked No. 18 nationally in NAIA women’s swimming, with its 800 free relay squad rated at No. 5.
WESMONT PAIR TO RUN
Although Westmont’s teams failed to qualify, two Warriors will be running at Friday’s NAIA National Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, Wash.
“Michael Oldach, who was an All-American last year when he finished eighth in the National Championships, will be competing for us on the men’s side,” sports information director Ron Smith said. “And then on the women’s side, we have a freshman, Madden Huntley, who qualified with her time at the GSAC Championships.”