The No. 4 ranked Westmont men’s soccer team wrapped up the Golden State Athletic Conference when it beat OUAZ 2-0. But, Saturday the Warriors eyed another record they wanted to beat.
Hosting Arizona Christian in its final regular-season meeting of the season, Westmont knew with a win it would join the 1989 men’s soccer team as the two teams in the past 30 years to finish conference play undefeated.
Wasting no time, the Warriors (13-1-1) scored four goals in the first half and would eventually win the match 5-1 to secure its place with the 1989 team finishing GSAC play with a record of 7-0-1.
“It’s super surreal to honor the legacy of the program and the guys that came before us. Our team motto is heritage, integrity, and desire and we really value that heritage piece and the teams that came before us and give us the opportunity to be out on that field wearing a Westmont uniform,” senior defender Tim Heiduk said.
“We wanted to check one more thing off the list today and we did that.”
The win also helped Westmont finish the year with a three-match winning streak and an eight-game unbeaten streak.
Simply by winning the regular-season conference title, the Warriors have helped themselves tremendously.
Westmont will receive a bye in the quarterfinals of the GSAC tournament, will host the GSAC semifinals and championship match, earned GSAC’s host berth in the NAIA National Tournament and will receive an NAIA National Tournament Opening Round bye and enter the tournament in the round of 16.
Still, Westmont knows nothing is guaranteed and the team needs to keep its focus if it hopes to continue playing at a high level.
“It’s not easy. Sometimes it is easy to get complacent and think it’s not that big of a deal if we don’t win the tournament because we already won the regular season but I think the fact that it is on our home field will fire us. As competitors, you don’t want to see another team celebrating on your home field,” Heiduk said.
On Saturday, the Warriors put on a show on Senior Day. In fact, it was two seniors that scored the first two goals of the day.
First, senior forward Lucky Puengrod scored unassisted in the 13th minute to notch his third goal of the year and give Westmont a 1-0 lead.
Then, Heiduk himself scored, tallying a goal in 24th minute off a corner kick. The senior defender got up higher than everyone else and headed it past the netkeeper for his fourth goal of the season.
Sophomore forward Owen Bates would then join his senior counterparts in the scoring department when he scored two goals just three minutes apart.
He scored his first of the afternoon in the 30th minute off an assist from Samuel Tuscano, who also assisted Heiduk, and then he would tally another one in the 33rd unassisted to give Westmont a 4-0 lead.
Bates came into the game with just one goal on the season.
The Warriors capped off their scoring when Tuscano scored his fifth goal of the year in the 60th minute. The sophomore midfielder put his team up 5-0.
Technically, Westmont did score a sixth goal, but that one came against its own keeper as the Warriors scored an own goal in the 77th minute to give Arizona Christian its only goal of the match.
Overall, Westmont dominated the match on the scoreboard, but in the shots department, the Warriors only outshot their opponents 18-16 and the Firestorm even held a strong advantage in corner kicks (12-6).
But, Westmont had way more shots on target tallying 12 to Arizona Christian’s three.
With only one loss this season, Westmont has deserved all the advantages it now has going forward. The team will not play another match until the GSAC semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 13.
More than that though, Heiduk is just thankful that he got to spend one more year with this program.
A fifth-year student, Heiduk could have graduated and left Westmont to pursue a graduate degree and play somewhere else or even leave the sport of soccer alone altogether.
Instead, Heiduk chose to stay in a place that means so much to him.
“It means everything. The big reason why I came back for the fifth year was because of this group of guys the coaching staff just this community as a whole. It’s a truly special place to be in so grateful just for all the memories and the experiences that I’ve had,” Heiduk said.
“The bond we have off the field is something that can never be replaced and never be broken.”