Views 18 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 29 - 2017 | By: Brooke Porter
Excitement sizzled off the freshly cut pitch in anticipation for what was to be the first round opener of the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Tournament.
Feelings of eagerness and nerves fused together to create the perfect atmosphere for this thrilling high-stakes game. For both the Westmont Warriors and Eastern Oregon Mountaineers knew, the winner would go to Alabama to continue its run in the NAIA National tournament, while the loser would have its season come to a tragic close.
The stage was set for the most important game of the Warriors season thus far, and no one knew how to handle the postseason emotions better than the eight calm and confident Westmont seniors, who were about to lead its team into battle against the Mountaineers (13-4-2), a team that found great success in both their Conference and their Conference Tournament.
Stepping up, the Westmont Warriors began the game in a bout of possession, strategically and collectively moving the ball around in order to get a feel for the opposition’s style of play. However, the Mountaineers came to play, and they fought back with quick counters and skillful dribbling that put the Warriors’ backline to the test. Very few chances came off for either team in the initial minutes, creating a surmounting need to send more gusto and power into the attack.
The ever so adaptable Warriors answered this call in the 26th minute, as senior Destinee Adams sent a perfectly lofted ball over the backline of the Mountaineers and straight to the feet of freshman Bri Johnson, who was able to slot the ball tactfully into the box, where it found sophomore forward Maddi Berthoud running on. Berthoud was able to knee the ball past Eastern Oregon’s keeper and into the back of the net to put the Warriors up by a score of 1-0. The elated Warriors were now faced with the daunting task of keeping the Mountaineers at bay and holding onto the lead.
Throughout the rest of the first half and much into the second half, Westmont kept up the attack by outshooting the Mountaineers 14-6, but also having to stay defensively compact and organized to cut off any hopes of the Mountaineers getting back into the game. Staying true to their game plan, the Warriors’ backline, led by seniors Alanna Richards and Renee Gonsalves, managed to strive together and fabricate some brilliant moments of defensive prowess.
When the final whistle blew, the Warriors let out a breath and stormed the field with pure exhilaration after the 1-0 win, gleefully soaking up the moment and reveling in the fact that their National Tournament dreams were not over.
Goalscorer Berthoud commented about the performance, “When the game ended, I was so excited. We’ve been working towards this all year and it’s amazing that it’s paid off and we’ve gotten to this point! We connected well through our midfield in this game and we were able to find our possession game, while still being dangerous in the attack.”
The Westmont Warriors will be flying out to Orange Beach, Alabama in the week to come, getting a chance to take on #10 ranked Columbia in the second round on Tues. Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m. CST/11:30 a.m. PST.