Views 22 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 22 - 2016 | By: Brooke Porter
The stage was set for the #10 Westmont women’s soccer team on Saturday in the NAIA Opening Round on Thorrington Field in front of an audience of excited fans. The Warriors had a lot to prove before the curtains closed, because RV Carroll College came to battle. The winner of this match would earn a ticket to Orange Beach, Alabama to play amongst the top-16 teams in the NAIA, while the loser faced the bitter commencement of its season.
With energy emanating from both camps, the game began in a flurry of high-paced, aggressive style of soccer. The teams rallied back and forth until the nineteenth minute, when the fighting Saints of Carroll College found their forward Cassidy Hammons open in the Warriors’ 18-yard box. With enough time to control the ball, Hammons was able to knock it past Westmont goalkeeper Amber Rojas to give Carroll the lead. However, the Warriors bounced back quickly, and after only ninety seconds, center back Renee Gonsalves equalized off of a headed ball from a corner kick taken by Haley Parzonko. The game remained 1-1 for the rest of regulation time, with neither team able to capitalize on their chances (five shots on goal for the Saints and nine shots on goal for the Warriors). This included a missed penalty kick by the Saints late in the first half, that could have regained the lead for Carroll.
Going into the first overtime period, the Warriors were hungry for the win. Infused with confidence and grit, the Warriors were not unfamiliar with overtime situations and knew how to manage the pressure. In fact, going into Saturday’s match, Westmont had already played in five overtime games this season.
“We have been in this situation before and we just needed to put it away early because we don’t want to go into PK’s,” said Parzonko about her feelings and thoughts going into overtime. “I have learned to love and hate overtime through the different results we have had in it, but it provides such a rush of excitement and adrenaline especially in the National Tournament.”
Parzonko was able to channel the excitement and adrenaline with class, and two minutes into the overtime period, she smashed a ball laid off by teammate Maddi Berthoud, straight into the top left side of the goal. This banger of a goal ensured the game would not go to PK’s, giving the Warriors the win and ensuring them a game in Alabama next week.
“I believe we made the appropriate changes to our defensive pressure and organization in the second half that put us in a better position to find a result,” said Westmont Head Coach Chantél Cappuccilli. “I am proud of our fight to come from behind and find the victory within the opening minutes of overtime. I believe our performance was an all out effort that took everyone on the day. I am grateful for the grittiness of the performance and heart it took to find a result against a good Carroll team.”
The Warriors will face #6 ranked Northwestern Ohio (18-1-3) in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, Nov. 29th at 1:30 p.m. CST/11:30 a.m. PST. The winner will advance to play against either #2 Lindsey Wilson and #15 Columbia (Mo.) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Nov. 30th at 1:30 p.m. CST/11:30 a.m. PST.