By JACOB NORLING
WESTMONT COLLEGE WRITER
Westmont (1-1) struggled to build an attack against Rocky Mountain (2-0-1), and a penalty kick goal from the Battlin’ Bears was all the visitors needed to hand No. 25 Westmont a 1-0 loss on Monday afternoon in men’s soccer action.
“There’s different ways to interpret how this match unfolded,” offered Westmont head coach Dave Wolf. “Today we played against a team that has more experience than us, and one of the manifestations of that experience is knowing to run the pace of a match when you have a lead.
“With experience comes the knowledge of knowing when to foul, when to slow things down, and then when to speed things up. Rocky Mountain put on a masterclass on how to protect a lead. Their experience allowed them to reduce the duration of that second half significantly, and credit to them for that.”
Rocky Mountain let it be known immediately that its brand of soccer would require the Warriors to up their physicality to another level.
During the first 15 minutes of play, the Bears looked to bully the Warriors inside the Westmont half of the field. While Rocky Mountain’s midfield continued to overpower Westmont’s, the home team’s defense stood tall.
While the Bears recorded four shots in the first fifteen minutes, Westmont’s defense kept the game knotted at zero, due in part to the first career save for freshman keeper Brady Highfill.
For the final 30 minutes of the first half, Rocky Mountain did not record another shot. For Westmont, the club posted two shots, both on goal, and both off the left foot of Samuel Tuscano. However, neither was much of a threat to Bears’ keeper Ryan Cornwall.
As the half progressed, Westmont’s club began to meet the physicality of the visiting Bears, and neither side let the other gain comfort. After the first 45, Rocky Mountain had committed six fouls compared to Westmont’s five.
Less than a minute into the second half, the Bears finally broke through. After a Warrior defender appeared to block a shot from Rocky Mountain’s Sky Swenson, the Bears began hollering towards the center referee. The referee immediately obliged, rewarding the Bears with a penalty kick after what turned out to be a handball in the box.
Rocky Mountain’s Milo Downey shot directly down the middle, sneaking the ball past Highfill who dove to his right, and the Bears took 1-0 lead with 44:04 left to play.
For the next 20 minutes, Westmont’s defense continued to fend off Rocky Mountain’s attempts to double the lead, but the Warriors were also unable to penetrate the Bear’s backline. With 20 minutes left on the clock, the Warriors had recorded just one shot all half.
Jacob Norling is a Westmont College sports information assistant.