As beautiful a game as soccer is, the cruelty of the sport holds mercy for no one. The No. 6 Westmont women’s soccer team was rudely reminded of this reality on Saturday when it dropped an overtime heartbreaker against The Master’s in Santa Clarita.
The Warriors, after defeating Hope International 2-0 on Wednesday thanks to goals from Katie Stella and Bri Johnson, entered play without having lost since opening day and suffered their first GSAC loss after winning their first four matches in conference play. Westmont entered the match holding the No. 6 ranking in the nation, facing off against (and ultimately losing to) a Mustangs club that is receiving votes in the latest NAIA Coaches’ Poll.
The Warriors got out to an early 1-0 lead in the 15th minute on a penalty kick by Savannah Scott, only to give up the lead early in the second half. Then, in what looked like one of the season’s most exciting moments, Stella put the Warriors up 2-1 in the 86th minute. However, the tide turned in favor of the Mustangs, who not only scored the equalizer in the 88th minute, but before anyone could blink an eye, also scored the golden goal a mere two minutes into overtime.
The Mustangs celebrated as if they had won a league title, and why wouldn’t they? They handed a loss to one of the most dominant women’s soccer teams in the NAIA and put themselves into the discussion for GSAC regular season champs, now tied for third at 3-1.
The loss dropped the Warriors to second place in the GSAC behind OUAZ, who has yet to lose a GSAC game thus far. The Warriors face off against San Diego Christian this weekend, before returning home next Thursday for what looks to be a crucial Halloween matchup against OUAZ, in a match that may very well decide the GSAC regular season title. If you’ve been waiting for a time to fasten your seatbelts, wait no longer.
For the Warriors, there is no need to panic. This team not only controls its own destiny, with OUAZ coming to Thorrington Field this Halloween, but (to put it blatantly) there is no need to panic because this team is special. This is a club with a first-year head coach in Jenny Jaggard, who led her squad to rattle off 10 wins in-between their first two losses. This is a team who beat the number-one-ranked team in the nation to put itself on the map. This is a club that has one of the program’s greatest goalkeepers ever, putting up historic numbers. This is a club with seniors that have waited their careers for this final shot at glory.
This team is special, and for Warriors fans, it is safe to think that Saturday’s loss against The Master’s isn’t anything more than the inevitable adversity that every championship team has to go through. The best is yet to come.