SPOTLIGHT: Soccer unites Westmont after fire

Four days after the devastation of the Tea Fire in Montecito, Calif., that destroyed more than 100 homes, including the home of head coach Dave Wolf, and closed down the school, Westmont College regrouped and won the Golden State Athletic Conference men's championship with a 2-0 win at defending national champion Azusa Pacific on Monday that earned the Warriors a berth in the 50th annual NAIA national championship that begins Saturday.

In addition to the baseball/soccer facility, two school buildings, 14 faculty housing residences and the dorm rooms of 50 students were destroyed. One Westmont soccer player lost the home he was renting, another had his dorm room consumed by fire and a third player's dorm room suffered extensive water damage.

Wolf called his brother Phil -- the Azusa Pacific coach -- and got approval to have the game postponed from Saturday even though the NAIA Tournament bids were to made on Sunday. Westmont trained at nearby UC Santa Barbara on Saturday and then headed to Azusa.

The fire has caused Westmont to close the school until Dec. 1. The weekday off allowed about 250 Westmont supporters to travel to Azusa for Monday's game. Azusa Pacific staff fed their visitors with pizza.

Westmont was the sixth seed in the GSAC tournament but won with victories over Vanguard (3-2), Concordia (1-0) and Azusa Pacific. The final was a winner-take-all game -- the loser would not earn an at-large berth in the NAIA Tournament -- drew a record Azusa Pacific crowd of 500.

Harrison Hill and Hugo Pizano scored for the Warriors. Both goals were set up by senior Jonathon Schoff, who lost the home he rented along with six other roommates a mile from campus.

Warriors goalkeeper Justin Etherton made six saves to hold off the Cougars, whose bid for a repeat NAIA title ended.

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