Oregon Tech gets the jump on Westmont to win NAIA soccer opener

KENNETH SONG/NEWS-PRESS
Westmont’s Grace Duckens, middle, makes a run to the goal during Thursday’s 2-0 loss against Oregon Tech.

A tentative start finished Westmont College’s women’s soccer season on Thursday.

Oregon Tech notched its eighth-straight shutout while defeating the ninth-ranked Warriors 2-0 in an Opening Round Game of the NAIA Women’s Soccer Championships at Thorrington Field.

“I thought that the energy that we brought in the beginning of the game wasn’t what we were hoping for,” Westmont coach Jenny Jaggard said. “I felt like there was a lot of playing from fear, not really trusting that we could play the Westmont way.

“Part of the playoff experience is learning to handle that pressure.”

The Warriors finish the season with a 7-5 record.

Oregon Tech (12-1), which fended off several Warrior scoring opportunities in the second half, will now face 16th-ranked Eastern Oregon (8-1-2) in a second-round match at noon Saturday at Thorrington Field. Eastern Oregon edged La Sierra, 2-1, in Thursday’s first contest.

“We had expectations for ourselves that we were going to go deeper,” Jaggard said. “I think we very well could have, but there are no could-haves in the playoffs. You either make it happen or you don’t.

“There is a little bit of luck and a lot of getting after it and making it happen. Today, it didn’t work for us.”

Mehana Ortiz gave Oregon Tech the lead in the 26th minute when she launched a 45-yard shot over the head of Westmont goalkeeper Gabi Haw from the right touch line. Haw back-pedaled from the top of the 18 and made a leaping attempt to stop the shot, but it glanced off her fingertips and bounced into the net.

The Warriors came out firing in the second half. Kendall Ollenburger hit the crossbar on a 25-yard shot in the 55th minute. Isabelle Berthoud tried to convert the rebound, but Oregon Tech goalkeeper Alyx Burkhartzymeyer stopped the point-blank shot for one of her five saves. She has yet to allow a goal this season.

Grace Hotaling attempted a header on Karly Kingsley’s cross from the right touchline in the 80th minute, but her shot went just over the crossbar

“I was proud of them in the second half,” Jaggard said. “They rose and pushed and we had some really good opportunities. Today just didn’t go our way.

“Sometimes you win a game and you are not sure how. Other games you lose and scratch your head thinking there were dozens of ways we could have won that and why didn’t any of them work?”

The Owls put the game out of reach on a breakaway with just five minutes remaining. Kiah Wetzell received a pass on the left touchline near the midfield line, dribbled up-field and then maneuvered past Haw to kick the ball into an empty net.

Westmont actually out-shot Oregon Tech 12-8, with both teams putting five attempts on frame.

“Oregon Tech scouted us well and did the things they can do well and it ended up working for them,” Jaggard said. “It is just painful.”

She described the season as a “wild ride with COVID.”

“I am proud of my team for sticking it out and continuing to play and work hard,” she said. “I have seen a lot of development in them this year, especially considering how few games we have had leading up to playoffs. It’s an unusual soccer year.

“We have a great foundation for building for the fall. Our seniors will be tremendously missed, but we have a good core. They know what we are all about and they work hard. Hopefully, we will get after it and do something a little more exciting this fall.”

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