Westmont (4-6-1, 2-3-1) battled for 110 minutes against OUAZ (10-3-1, 3-2-1) on Saturday and walked away with a point in the GSAC standings after settling for a 1-1 tie.
The Warriors men’s soccer team struck first with a goal in the 26th minute, but the Spirit answered with one of their own in the 52nd and the two clubs traded stops for the rest of the afternoon to finish in a stalemate.
“That’s a big point for us in the grand scheme of things,” said Westmont Head Coach Dave Wolf. “I thought that from the 25th minute to the end of the first half we played our football of the year. I was so pleased to see that the effort we brought on Thursday carried over today, regardless of the result.
“On a quick turnaround, against a team of this caliber, I thought our effort was outstanding.”
Fifteen minutes into the match, OUAZ’s Tom Cohen fired the first shot on frame off a free kick from 25 yards out. Cohen’s shot, while struck with great velocity, skipped harmlessly into the hands of freshman goalkeeper Brady Highfill.
Three minutes later, Highfill had to make another save, this one much more difficult. When Tonny Temple beat defender Justin Nakaoka, Temple took a long stride with possession and had an angle to shoot on Highfill’s near post. The freshman was leaning towards his left, so when Temple shot towards the near post, Highfill was left with nothing but his right leg to redirect the ball out of bounds.
Fortunately for the Warriors, Highfill had enough leg left to get a piece of the shot, surrendering nothing more than a corner.
The Warriors did not put a shot on goal until the 26th minute, but when they did they made it count. The Warriors had a slow developing play on the far side of the field, even with the 18, when a cross was lofted to the back of the near-six-yard box.
On the receiving end was Mason Ginni, who headed the ball to the center of the box. Waiting for it to come down was freshman Spencer Crithfield, who deflected the shot with a single touch to the back of the net.
Crithfield’s second goal of the season gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
After another 19 minutes, the Warriors led 1-0 at halftime, with neither side recording another shot on goal after Crithfield’s score. While spirits remained high due to the 1-0 advantage, the Warriors also used halftime to celebrate the club’s five seniors.
“The best way to honor those guys, regardless of result, was to leave it all out on the field,” said Wolf. “Our guys left it all out there today. There were guys that could barely walk at the end of that game and I think they should be proud of the way we were able to honor them today.”
Thirty seconds into the second half, the Spirit tried to quiet the party when Temple had another shot on Highfill, but for the third time in as many attempts, the goalkeeper calmly corralled the ball in front of his line.
Highfill and the Warriors wouldn’t be as fortunate a fourth time, as in the 52nd minute, Temple received a perfect cross from Cohen in the heart of the six-yard box, and buried it in the back of the net for the equalizer.
In the 75th minute, Highfill kept the game tied with one of the most impressive saves of the Warriors season.
On this occasion, Temple found himself with possession and a stride past Michael Palmer at the top of the box. Highfill sprinted off his line to meet Temple, and when the two came face to face, Temple chipped a shot over the top of Highfill. Highfill reacted as if the play were choreographed, throwing his hands up immediately to snare the ball out of mid-air, keeping the game tied with his fifth save of the day.
The beat went on in the 85th minute, when Temple’s showdown with Highfill continued in the six-yard box. Highfill recorded his seventh save, and fifth at the cost of Temple, when he kick-saved a shot that was ticketed for the inside of his right post.
Five more minutes passed without a goal, and the game headed to overtime in a 1-1 tie. The two keepers combined for 11 saves at the end of regulation.
“Brady is going to be quite the player in this league,” Wolf said. “With young players it is a process, and the work that he’s put in with Tovi for the last couple months is really paying off. Brady is going to be a monster moving forward and I think he showed everyone just that with his performance today.”
During the first 10 minutes of overtime, both sides threatened around the box but rarely inside, and the game headed for a second overtime in a 1-1 tie.
Two minutes into the final overtime, disaster came within inches of striking in the Warriors six-yard box. After an excellent cross from Tinashe Simbo made Highfill come off of his line, the center of the Warrior box was vacated. When Highfill was only able to get a piece of the oncoming cross, the ball fell into no man’s land right in front of the Warrior net.
What looked to be a golden goal tap-in turned out to be a heroic clearance by Landon Amaral, when the defender came out of nowhere to send the ball down field just before Temple came into the picture,
The two sides threw punch after punch for 110 minutes, but at the end of the second overtime the two had to settle for a one point the standings after the game resulted in a 1-1 tie.
“Once again we have shown our capability,” said Wolf, “now it’s time to show some consistency. For a stretch, we were dominant in that game. We just need to showcase consistency and grow in our effort as a unit as we travel up to northern California next week.
“The consistency of effort is there, now it’s a matter of consistency of execution.”
The Warriors return to action on the road this week, when they head north to take on Menlo and William Jessup on Thursday and Saturday.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College