Westmont Magazine Warriors Win National Title

In a dramatic 3-0 victory over Transylvania of Kentucky on Nov. 23, the Westmont women’s soccer team claimed the 1999 NAIA National Championship in Miami.

“This senior class has been to the national tournament four straight years and in the Final Four once before, so it’s nice to walk away with the title,” Coach Mike Giuliano said. “The fact that we have gone home without it before, makes this one even better.”

To win the elusive title, the team had to regroup after an emotional and physically draining 2-1 win against arch-rival Azusa Pacific in the semifinals.

Almost as impressive as winning the national title, the Westmont team placed five players on the NAIA All-American Scholar-Athlete list. These students must be regular contributors to their team and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average (GPA).

Four of the five players making the scholar-athlete list were starters for Westmont.

Senior Katie Gardinier (of Wellington, Colo.) was named most valuable player of the national tournament and NAIA National Player of the Year. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) awarded her this honor in January. She boasts a 3.83 GPA in kinesiology.

A midfielder, Gardinier led the Warriors to a national tournament berth each season and was a first-team NAIA All-American for four straight years. Her career totals of 66 goals and 157 points rank second all-time at Westmont. She also recorded 25 career assists, which is fourth in the Warrior record books.

Another scholar-athlete was junior Angela Crowell (of Beverly, Miss.) with a 3.87 GPA in psychology; junior Annie Benington (of Hunting-ton Beach, Calif.) with a 3.66 GPA in biology; junior Melody Miller (of Denver) with a 3.63 GPA in music; and senior Amber Van Leeuwen (of Chino, Calif.) with a 3.53 GPA in psychology.

Also, four members of the Warrior squad were voted to the NAIA All-Region Team: Gardinier, Stephanie Herivel, Crowell, and Kristen St. Clair.

Gardinier and Herivel were the top two scorers for Westmont, recording 15 and 13 goals, respectively.

Crowell and St. Clair anchored the defense, which allowed only 12 goals this season and established a new school record with a team goals-against-average of 0.50.

Mike Giuliano was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA). He guided the Warriors to a magical 21-2 season that not only included the national championship, but produced wins over NCAA Division III champion UC San Diego, and NCAA Division 1 neighbor UC Santa Barbara, plus three victories over defending NAIA champion and GSAC rival Azusa Pacific.