If you’ve been waiting for the right time to start following the men’s soccer team, wait no longer. Following Saturday’s 3-0 victory against Antelope Valley, the Warriors have opened up their season 5-0 for the first time in 20 years.
The Warriors and their Head Coach Dave Wolf have stressed since day one that while their mentality hasn’t been to get too far ahead of themselves, they had a clear -cut goal for the long homestand to open the season. Senior midfielder Panchito Castro was the latest member of the squad to mention that the team had a goal of being 5-0 ahead of its road trip out to Chicago to face no. 19 Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) next weekend.
“We had a goal to be 5-0 before our trip to Chicago and we made it,” said Castro following the victory. Castro was one of three Warriors, along with sophomore forward Sam Tuscano and senior midfielder Lucky Puengrod, to score in the match, with his coming off a penalty kick in the 62nd minute to extend Westmont’s lead to 2-0.
Castro followed with a statement that has been echoed by each member of the squad and that is the hope that this is merely the beginning for this talented group. “We don’t want to get complacent; we want to just keep getting better,” said Castro. “I believe we still haven’t hit our peak so we just have to keep going harder.”
The story of this early season success has been well spread out. Castro, along with junior forward Tyler Young, lead the way with three goals each so far, followed by senior forward Christian Webb and Tuscano, who have a pair each.
While the scoring receives a majority of the spotlight, the Warriors would not be in this position without the stellar play from the defense early on. On Saturday, star senior goalkeeper Lalo Delgado recorded his third consecutive shutout, having only allowed three goals all season thus far. Delgado, along with the captain, senior center back Tim Heiduk, have set the tone for the Warriors’ back four. But, in perhaps the most unpredictable plotline of the season, it’s been freshmen that have really stepped up for the team.
“I’ve been back there most of the time with three freshman,” said Heiduk. “They’ve stepped up and played big in big moments and have done a great job for us.” Those three freshmen are Mason Ginni, Michael Palmer, and Justin Nakaoka, who have been given a run out due to injuries and have made quite the impression during this early season streak.
There’s something to be said on just about each member of the Westmont squad this season, and guys who have stepped up include junior Nick Ruiz, who controls the tempo of the game from the midfield alongside his roommate, Jona Romero, who appears to possess a newfound confidence as an upperclassman. The pair represent a core of this team that seems to finally have come of age this season, as the stars seem to align for this ballclub.
The expectations for this team have flipped the narrative of years past, which left fans wondering if the Warriors would be able to come up in big moments to once again retain GSAC glory. Nowadays, it is not a question of if; the question is who, and when. We guess you’ll just have to tune in to find out.