The last time the Westmont women’s soccer team won a GSAC title was in 2015 when the team won it for the second consecutive year.
The Warriors will look to change that beginning on Thursday as they will face OUAZ in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
First-seeded Westmont is the hosts of the GSAC tournament after clinching a share of the regular-season title with a 7-1 mark.
“I definitely love playing (at Thorrington). I couldn’t ask for a better place to hold the tournament. It’s a lot better than having to travel to Arizona, or up north again so I’m super excited to have the home field, and have all of our fans, friends, and family be here,” senior defender Kira Nemeth said.
Playing at home has certainly been an advantage for Westmont this season as the team is 7-1, its only loss at Thorrington Field coming in its first game of the season to Southern Oregon, 2-1.
Overall, the Warriors are the No. 8 team in the NAIA and have an overall record of 13-2-1.
Westmont played OUAZ at home the last time the two teams met and the Warriors trounced the Spirit, 6-0.
In that game, junior forward Bri Johnson scored as she has done for most of this season. Johnson leads the team in goals and is tied for the league mark in goals with 13. She also added three assists for a total of 29 points.
In eight conference games this season, Johnson led the GSAC in scoring with 22 points on 10 goals and two assists.
Her efforts, especially on the offensive end, helped her earn the conference’s Player of the Year award. She is the ninth player in Westmont program history to earn the honor.
Goalkeeper Gabi Haw was another key player not just in the game against OUAZ but this entire season. Haw one of her 10 clean sheets against the Spirit.
Haw led the GSAC in goals against with only 11 allowed in 16 games for a 0.69 average. The junior was one of six players to be named to the All-GSAC team. The other five players are Johnson, Nemeth, senior forward Maddi Berthoud, junior defender Savannah Scott, and sophomore midfielder Teagan Matye.
Nemeth, a co-captain, also helped anchor the defensive end. She also contributed nine points on the offensive end with three goals and three assists.
Berthoud, another one of the teams co-captains, helped carry the load offensively as she eight goals and led the team in assists with five.
Her eight scores ranked third on the team behind her sister, freshman forward Isabelle Berthoud who in just 634 minutes played scored 10 goals, showcasing how deep this Westmont team is. Johnson scored her 13 goals in 1,034 minutes played.
In general, the Westmont offense is peaking at the right time as the team has scored a total of 12 goals in its last two games and has really opened up the offense giving them a slew of opportunities.
“It’s definitely been a steady incline. We’ve been exploding in our offense and shutting them down defensively as well. I think we’re on the rise and are peaking into the postseason,” Nemeth said.
The Warriors are coached by Jenny Jaggard, who in her first season in charge of the program earned the GSAC’s Coach of the Year award.
With a win on Thursday, Westmont would face the winner of the match between Vanguard and The Master’s.
Both programs will be a tough draw for the Warriors. The Master’s are the only team to beat Westmont in conference play this season, earning a 3-2 win in overtime in Santa Clarita.
As for Vanguard, Westmont did defeat them rather easily by a 3-0 score, but the Lions are the No. 12 team in the NAIA and are a dangerous team having won their last five games.
This season, the Westmont women’s soccer team has been mostly made up of underclassmen, but it is the four seniors who have steered them in the right direction.
None of those seniors were around when the Warriors won their last tournament title in 2015.
“We have been so close for three years and to finally do it. I mean, this is all we were working for and it feels so good. We deserved it, but we are not done and we know we still have a long way to go and we are excited to have that opportunity,” Berthoud said.
The Warriors will host the Spirit at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. The championship match will be played at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Thorrington Field.