By JACOB NORLING
WESTMONT COLLEGE WRITER
CLAREMONT — On Friday night in Claremont, No. 25 Westmont (1-0) found lightning in a bottle at the proper moment, winning its first match of the season 1-0 in overtime against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in men’s soccer action.
“That was some kind of game,” said Westmont head coach Dave Wolf, now in his 31st season at the helm. “We had numerous chances to win that game earlier, but regardless, to get one in the win column feels good.”
In the 14th minute, the Warriors recorded the first shot on goal for either side when Braeden Pryor received a shot on top of the 18, following a quick counter. Howat’s shot was struck with great velocity, but unfortunately for Westmont, right at the hands of Claremont keeper Kevin Box.
In the19th minute, a Westmont foul gave the Stags their first legitimate scoring opportunity of the night, giving Claremont a free kick on the edge of the eighteen on the far side.
Fortunately for Westmont, the shot went directly into the head of Donovan Howat, allowing the men to scatter and keep a zero on the scoreboard.
The two sides continued to go back-and-forth with promising counter attacks during the first 45, but each time one got near the eighteen, the other’s defense stood tall.
The two teams combined for 11 shots, and five on goal during the first half. However, none of the five on target were ever truly threats to sneak past either keeper.
“It was nice to get some quality attacks put together,” said Wolf. “I think although we did not strike as early as we would have liked, it gave us a lot of hope and optimism not only in the back half, but also in general as we move forward.”
In the second half, the Stags came out swinging against the Warriors, controlling the ball in the Westmont half of the field for a dangerous 10-plus minutes. While the ball roamed around Westmont’s box continuously, the best the Stags could get was two shots north of the high post.
Westmont’s main-striker, Sam Tuscano, had multiple Stag defenders glued to him during the match.
Tuscano had his presence felt for the first time in the 64th minute when a counter allowed him to have an open shot at the top of the eighteen. He received a pass and shifted the ball to his left foot before bending a shot over the hands of Box. However, it was also shot over the high post.
Twenty-four more minutes came and went, and while both sides threatened, the game remained tied at zero through regulation.
During the first 90 minutes, Westmont had nine shots on goal, compared to Claremont’s two.
“If things didn’t go our way, that would have been a tough result to drop,” noted Wolf. “With the chances we had it would have been nice to get on the board earlier, but luckily our defense bought us time.”
Three minutes into overtime, the 10th shot on goal proved to be the magic one.
In the 93rd minute, Tuscano got hold of a ball 10 yards past midfield, and was the last player to touch the ball all night. Westmont’s best carried the ball past a handful of Stag defenders and once more set up his most dangerous weapon, his left foot, before launching a ball 25 yards out that soared into the upper-left corner of the net. From there, the frenzy began.
“He was the best player on the field tonight,” said Wolf. “He put the team on his shoulders and took care of business. That was a captain’s performance in every way. He had a look of determination about him all night long and it was great to see him get one more chance.”
Not lost among the celebration was the stellar play by keeper Abraham Arteaga, who tallied two saves and guided his backline to a shutout.
“Abraham had himself a very good game,” expressed Wolf. “He was brave, and he had a couple of timely saves that kept us in the game. Tovi has done a great job bringing him along and developing him, and tonight we needed him to perform. He did just that.”
The club returns to action today when the athletes play their first official home match of the season down on Lovik Field against Rocky Mountain. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.
“Monday is going to come real fast,” said Wolf on Friday. “We are going to need the depth of our squad heading into Monday, and we had some good performances off the bench tonight. Expect a lot of those guys to feature on Monday.”
Jacob Norling is a Westmont College sports information assistant.