Upending the Cougars
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Last Friday, the #6 Westmont women’s soccer team faced off against the Azusa Pacific University (APU) Cougars, who going into the match were 10-3-2 in their last 15 games against the Warriors. Recalling their most recent encounter, both teams refused to give each other any sort of advantage as the game ended in an exhausting 0-0 tie in double overtime, preventing the Cougars from capturing a fifth straight win over the Warriors.
The Warriors’ hopes of once again becoming the dominant team against the Cougars took a sharp plummet early as APU scored in the second minute of the match. Throughout the next twenty minutes, both the Cougars and the Warriors pushed forward, each having corner kicks and shots on goal, but to no avail. For the remainder of the first half, the Warriors relentlessly tried to even the score, but fouls and offsides prevented their chances. Goalie Amber Rojas maintained her composure after the early goal, tallying three saves in the first half. Unfortunately, though the Warriors had six shots in total that half, all were stopped or off target.
“We didn’t drop our heads,” said Westmont Head Coach Chantel Cappuccilli about conceding the early goal. With the second half underway, both teams stormed out of the break poised to take down their rival. The Cougars once again broke open with an early blast, but the shot found the crossbar. Taking immediate action after the miss, the Warriors charged down field. A little over thirty seconds later in the 47th minute, Jackie Lopez’s shot from 13 yards found the back of the net. Momentum swung to the Warriors as Lopez took another shot on goal in the 48th minute, but the Cougars’ goalie came up with another save. Unrelenting, the Warriors once again closed in on the Cougars’ goal in the 54th minute. Lopez struck again off a beautiful cross by Maddi Berthoud.
The Warriors’ lead put the Cougars on edge. With the incessant pushing of the Warriors offense, the Cougars had little time to work towards scoring. Now with the lead, the Warriors looked to maintain it for the rest of the affair. However, the lead would not last long as the Cougars pounced just five minutes later with the equalizer in the 59th minute. It did not take long for the Warriors to break the tie though, as a free kick by Haylee Lopes was headed in by Renee Gonsalves in the 61st minute.
Four goals within the first sixteen minutes of the second half showed the true grit and nature of this rivalry. The Cougars let opportunities slip away multiple times as shots went wide and once again found the crossbar. Rojas came through again with another save in the 81st minute. The Warriors maintained the lead and ended their skid against APU with a 3-2 victory. Lopez led the way with two goals, and Rojas ended the day with four saves.
“Competing against Azusa Pacific is always an exciting match,” Cappuccilli stated as the Warriors now lead the rivalry 22-14-5. After avenging their previous losses to APU, the Warriors will ride this victory into their Golden State Athletic Conference opener against William Jessup University at home on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. before taking on Menlo at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, also at home.