November 9, 2017
This wasn't the way The Master's University men's soccer team envisioned its season ending.
The Mustangs had designs on a GSAC Championship and a return to the NAIA National Championships.
Instead, Westmont squashed those hopes Thursday afternoon, tagging the Mustangs with a season-ending, 3-1 loss in the GSAC Tournament semifinals at Santa Barbara.
"I'm disappointed for the season to end," said TMU head coach Jim Rickard. "It's been an honor to coach these young men who desire to honor the Lord in victory and defeat."
The third-seeded Mustangs concluded 2017 with a 12-6-2 record.
After the first shot on goal of the match off the foot of TMU's Luis Garcia-Sosa was saved by Westmont's All-GSAC goalie Lalo Delgado at the 5:38 mark, Warrior Yazi Hernandez connected just over three minutes later (8:50), beating Mustang keeper Casey Phillips with a shot from the top of the circle.
The Mustangs, who had three shots on goal during the first half, almost tied it on Daniel Smith and Benjamin Tembo attempts at 23:26 and 34:07, respectively, but Delgado kept the slightest of margins intact.
The Westmont keeper got some more room to work with just 40 seconds away from halftime when Francisco Castro put one past Phillips for a 2-0 lead.
Pressuring the Warrior net early in the second half finally paid off for the Mustangs as Trevor Mangan took a rebound from Smith and booted it past Delgado at 52:33 to halve the deficit. It was the junior's eighth goal of the season and Smith's sixth assist.
That was a direct result of some adjustments at halftime that prompted Rickard to say, "We reorganized at halftime and were able to cut the lead and get some momentum."
It stayed a one-goal match over the next 15 minutes because of Phillips' brilliant efforts. Playing his final game between the pipes, the senior recorded all four of his saves in that window to give his teammates a shot.
They never got it because Westmont's Jose Vasquez shot one past Phillips at the 79:40 mark, extending the Warrior lead to 3-1.
That's the way the match and season ended.
"I'm really proud of the entire team this season," concluded Rickard. "Today was no different. They gave everything they had."