The Westmont women’s soccer team (9-1-2, 5-0-1) maintained possession of first place in the GSAC on Saturday, after defeating OUAZ (9-3-3, 3-1-3) 3-0.
Two first-half goals set the tone for the Warriors, who did not allow a shot on goal for the first 70-plus minutes of the match. A third goal from Westmont put the finishing touches on a dominant showing, as the club cruised to victory in the second half.
“Right now, we are building both confidence and momentum,” said Westmont Head Coach Jenny Jaggard. “It takes a little while for a team to come together, and we’ve slowly been putting the pieces together. Today, I think we showed what we are capable of when we play to our utmost potential.
“We’re finally starting to connect the offensive and defensive pieces of our game, and it’s that cohesiveness that leads to wins such as this.”
Neither side put a shot on goal until the 18th minute, when Grace Duckens challenged Spirit keeper Cassidy Samuelson on the far side of the six-yard box. Duckens got under a ball and came within inches of successfully chipping the keeper, but fortunately for OUAZ, Samuelson had just enough reach to swat the ball out of bounds.
The next time the Warriors threatened in the box, Samuelson was not so fortunate. Teagan Matye made a run on the far side of the eighteen with possession, and fired a high-velocity shot towards the keeper on a hop. Samuelson blocked the initial shot from Matye, but was unable to smother the rebound.
Then an oncoming Duckens fired the second chance into the back of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
The Warriors dominated possession for the entirety of the first half, but until the 45th minute looked as though they would capitalize with only one goal. However, with 22 seconds left in the half, Matye connected with Duckens again for the second goal of the afternoon, and a beauty at that.
Matye crossed a ball to Duckens at the top of the 18, leading Duckens to take a touch to set up her most dangerous weapon, her left foot. Then, Duckens bent a perfect shot to the upper-right corner of the net to double the Warriors lead right before halftime.
“Grace’s confidence is soaring through the roof right now,” said Jaggard. “I think you’re seeing a player who’s really starting to believe in themselves and take those shots when they’re in front of her. She did a fabulous job today, and it set the tone for the back half of the match.”
Westmont did not surrender a shot on frame during the first half, and outshot OUAZ 12-1 during the frame.
The same beat went on for much of the second half, with the Warriors practically playing keep-away in the Spirit half of the field. OUAZ’s first shot on goal did not come until the 73rd minute, when Ki’Ilaweau Aweau let one fly from the near-edge of the 18-yard box.
Waiting for it was Westmont keeper Kailey Meyer, who calmly collected her only save of the match en route to a shutout.
“Our defensive effort was the number one thing I was most proud of,” Jaggard said. “The quality of defending we did for that long takes a lot of fitness and a lot of grit. Eventually they were going to get an opportunity, but to prolong it as long as we did, with our offense already putting up a pair of goals, it was textbook.”
Two minutes later, the Warriors found their exclamation point to put a bow on a dominant performance. Katie Stella, one of four seniors being celebrated on Saturday, found herself open with possession on the near side of the eighteen, and poked a shot past Samuelson for the club’s third score of the day. It was Stella’s first goal of her senior campaign.
“That was awesome,” beamed Jaggard. “It’s exciting to have Katie not only thrown into the mix today, but to see her have success as well. She’s a finisher, it’s what she does. To finally get her healthy enough and strong enough to contribute is not only special for today, but it’s happening at the perfect time in the season.”
At the end of 90 minutes, the Warriors outshot the Spirit 20-3, and more importantly outscored OUAZ 3-0 for a convincing win to remain atop the GSAC standings.
With two matches remaining in the regular season, Westmont sits atop the standings with 16 points, ahead of Hope International, who has 14.
“We’re in a good spot, but there’s work to do,” noted Jaggard. “We have a tough road trip coming up, and it’s time to keep getting after it.”
The club hits the road for the final two regular season games. On Thursday the club will take on the Menlo Oaks before matching up against William Jessup on Saturday.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.