By JACOB NORLING
WESTMONT COLLEGE WRITER
SAN DIEGO — The Warriors had a handful of opportunities, but never found the back of the net as Point Loma (2-2-1) handed Westmont (2-3) a 1-0 loss on Saturday.
The difference in the match proved to be a missed penalty kick for the Warriors in the second half. Adding insult to injury, minutes later Point Loma converted a penalty kick of their own for the lone goal of the day.
“I thought today was still a step forward for our team,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “It’s hard to feel that way when you don’t get a result, but that’s a good team we played against. I told the team that today will still be beneficial to us in the grand scheme of things.”
In the eighth minute, Matthew Morgan sent in the first corner of the day and served a ball to the back of the six-yard box that an oncoming Memo Mendoza got a head on. Unfortunately for Mendoza, the ball shot a few inches above the upper-left post and left the Warriors without their first score of the match.
In the 20th minute, Brady Highfill made the most impressive save of his collegiate career yet when Pascal Rodriguez intercepted a ball at the top of the Westmont 18. Rodriguez immediately chipped a shot toward the net that Highfill had begun to creep away from. Now backpedaling, Highfill got a yard in front of his goal line before leaping and punching the ball up and over the high post.
In the 32nd minute, Point Loma was awarded a free kick 25 yards out, and Dalton Kinney let one fire on a short hop towards Highfill. With the rest of the Sea Lions crashing in on him, Highfill swallowed the shot cleanly without allowing a ricochet, keeping Point Loma off the board.
Highfill had three saves in total on the day.
“Brady had himself a good performance,” noted Wolf. “It’s been good to see our young goalkeepers have success in games against legitimate opponents. In these games, you find out what you can expect from them in the future. I think Brady today, and Abraham as well, have answered that question.”
After the first 45 minutes, the clubs remained knotted at zero. During the first half, Westmont recorded just one shot on goal.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Westmont had their best look at taking the lead.
Connor Lynch put the first shot on frame four minutes into the period, but keeper Ryan Pierce slid to his left and got hands on the ball to trap it and keep Westmont off the board.
Then, in the 51st minute, Braeden Pryor had a breakaway that looked to be a one-on-one shot at the keeper. As Pryor entered the 18, he was tackled to the ground, and the Warriors were awarded a penalty kick.
However, on the ensuing penalty kick, Pryor shot two yards wide of the left post, and the game remained tied at zero.
Then in the 68th minute, disaster struck when a handball in the Westmont box allowed the Sea Lions to have a penalty kick of their own. Jona Oesterling took the shot for the Lions and buried it into the upper-left portion of the net to give the Lions the 1-0 lead.
“To Braeden’s credit, he did great in earning the penalty kick,” noted Wolf, “and overall he had a really good performance. I don’t want that to be lost in the midst of one magnified moment.”
Westmont was held quiet for the next 20 minutes, and their final opportunity came on a set piece 40 yards out in the 89th minute. The ball was lofted towards the six-yard box and hung around for three or so touches, but was eventually cleared out of harm’s way by the Sea Lions.
Westmont was once again reminded how tough it can be to play from behind for an extended amount of time, as the Sea Lions ultimately handed the Warriors a 1-0 loss.
“At the end of the day,” began Wolf, “it came down to two penalties. One was made, one was missed, and sometimes that’s just how the game unfolds.
“It’s no secret that in the three games we’ve lost we conceded first, and in the two games we won, we scored first. It’s a different dynamic playing from behind, and we weren’t able to give ourselves the chance to play out in front.”
Westmont had just six shots in total, putting only two on frame.
“I thought we played quite well in the second, especially early,” said Wolf. “I think we just lacked a ball-striking mentality today. We got in some good places, and nobody seemed to want to put their foot through the ball today. We over-passed at times in and around the box when we needed somebody to step up and smash a ball.
The club returns to action on Sept. 30, when the team opens GSAC play against San Diego Christian at home. Tickets are available on the Westmont Athletics website.
“There were some encouraging things today,” assured Wolf, “and we now have a block of time to get ready heading into GSAC play.”
Jacob Norling is the Westmont College sports information assistant.