Westmont Magazine Three-peat by the Sea
The most dominant team in the history of NAIA women’s soccer, Westmont has won five national titles, including three straight and four in the last five years. This year, they also hosted the NAIA National Tournament, held at Santa Barbara City College’s beach-side stadium.
Coming into the tournament, the Warriors hoped to accomplish two NAIA firsts: the first team to win three straight championships and the first host to win the title.
Not only did they reach these goals, but they set another record by playing in the longest ever NAIA championship game. With a final record of 22-1-1, they also won the most games in Westmont history.
As hosts of the national tournament, the Warriors received an automatic berth in the 20-team contest. As it turns out, they didn’t need it. Westmont posted a regular season record of 16-1-1, won the NAIA regional playoffs by beating arch-rival Biola, and began the tournament seeded No. 2. They won their first three games easily and decisively, 6-0, 4-0 and 5-1 to set up the final game with No. 1 seed Lindsey-Wilson.
The evenly matched teams fought a long, defensive battle on a cool Santa Barbara evening. More than 3,000 people attended the game, including many enthusiastic Warrior fans. Although Lindsey-Wilson scored first, the Warriors came back to tie the game with a goal by Caitlin Olson. The two first-period points proved to be the only scoring in regulation.
With a 1-1 tie at the end of 90 minutes, overtime began. NAIA does not use penalty kicks for championship games, so the first team to score wins.
Neither squad gave up, but the exhausted Warriors dug down for motivation and pulled out a goal near the end of the seventh overtime. Jessica Schoepke took advantage of a goalie error to knock in the winning point.
Coach Mike Giuliano told the Horizon, “For a year and a half, we knew that the tournament would be in Santa Barbara. For that year and a half, we dreamed of how we were going to make the most of this opportunity. When the time came, the reality of our triumph surpassed our wildest dreams.”
Karin Sullivan earned her second National Tournament MVP award, getting a bookend with the one she took home in 2001. Her sister, Kristi Sullivan, who was the MVP last year, was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament. Defenders Kristen Kleen and Janee Andre also made the All-Tournament Team.
The 2003 squad set or tied team records for wins in a season (22), most consecutive wins (15), most consecutive unbeaten (17), goals (84), average goals per game (3.33), assists (65), shutouts (16), goals allowed (12) and goals against average (0.48).