With a 4-0 Golden State Athletic Conference win over the Firestorm of Arizona Christian (3-9-1, 0-5-1 GSAC), the No. 20 Westmont women’s soccer team (8-1-2, 4-0-1) has moved to the top of the conference standings and has clinched a berth in the upcoming GSAC Tournament.
“I’m excited about how it is coming together,” said Westmont head coach Jenny Jaggard. “We had talked about having pride in our defense. Arizona Christian is good at taking advantage of a few transitional moments.
“We could have gotten caught super high after pinging it around in their back third. It almost happened a couple of times, but for the majority of the game I was pleased with the pressure we were getting on the ball for the majority of the game. I thought they did a good job of putting together a 90-minute game today. They were focused.”
Junior forward Grace Duckens scored a pair of goals in the first half and provided the assist on one in the second to ignite the Warrior offense.
In the 22nd minute, Grace Hotaling headed a ball that glanced off a defender and went 10 feet to the left of the goal. Duckens found herself alone with the ball and fired what turned out to be the goal winner into the far side netting.
Just 10 minutes later, the same pairing connected again. Hotaling sent a ball forward from the top of the 18 which found Duckens all alone. Duckens took a touch, then fired the ball into the far crease.
In the 48th minute, Duckens was dribbling toward the goal from about 25 yards out when she was taken down from behind. Daisy Alvarez lined up for the resulting free kick against a wall of three would-be Firestorm defenders. Alvarez fired off a shot that found the far corner, putting the Warriors up 3-0.
The Warriors’ final goal came in the 56th minute of play. Duckens picked up a ball on the right side then fired across to Teagan Matye who sent it past the keeper with one touch from 14 yards out.
The prolific scoring allowed Jaggard to change up her lineup today. The Warriors had 21 players take the pitch.
“We are trying to get different rotations into the game,” said Jaggard. “When we get a couple of goals, it is nice to give our starters a little bit of a rest and give other people more opportunities to get and build a rhythm. We are also trying to save our legs for Saturday.”
Westmont controlled possession and the tempo of the game. The Warriors tallied 28 shots, 16 of which were on goal.
“I loved the finishes today,” Jaggard said. “This is the most goals scored this year in a game. We have been doing a lot of different activities, working on building overloads in the back and trying to squeak balls in on close finishes. I saw that happening today.
“The goal Teagan scored is a ball that is squirted in there and she was making the right run. Duckens’ goals today were brilliant. Daisy — wow — her free kicks are becoming very consistent. You know what you are getting from her.”
The Warriors, who have accumulated 13 points in the standings (three points for a win, one for a tie), lead second-place Ottawa (Ariz.) (9-2-3, 3-0-3) by one point and are two points ahead of William Jessup (9-2-2, 3-0-2) and Hope International (8-0-2, 3-0-2).
Westmont will host Ottawa at 3:15 p.m. today. n a showdown for first place.
Ron Smith is the sports information director at Westmont College.