The Oaks sent their fans home happy in the 2012 Wunderlich Field opener, pulling through for a 3-1 victory over Westmont College (1-1). Two early second half scores helped Menlo pull away, as the Oaks turned a 1-0 advantage into a 3-0 cushion, signaling doom for the Warriors. The win extends Menlo's record to 2-0-1 as the Oaks continue their successful start to the 2012 campaign.
"It was good to be back at home," said Menlo third year Head Coach Mike Keller on toeing the turf at Wunderlich for the first time this season. "It's always exciting to play in front of your fans, and today there was a great atmosphere."
In the 54th minute with Menlo already leading 1-0, junior transfer Andrew Cota created havoc on the offensive end. The Santa Clara native found a way to maneuver inside the box, eventually forcing Westmont goalkeeper Matthew McNab to make a diving stab at his shot attempt. Credit McNab who was able to punch the ball away, but senior forward Alex Vukic never gave up on the play. The Menlo Park native pushed in the rebound for his second goal of the year to extend Menlo's margin to 2-0.
Moments later, in the 56th minute, Vukic was at it again. This time the experienced forward found himself with room to roam, spelling trouble for the Warriors. Well inside the box, Vukic finally crossed it to fellow senior Eric Angell, who easily took care of the rest with a missile past McNab to push Menlo's lead to an almost insurmountable 3-0 advantage. It was Angell's first goal of the young season, while Vukic pulled into a tie with the aforementioned Andrew Cota for the team lead with five points.
"It feels good to finally be out here [Wunderlich Field] and show everyone how hard we've been working," said Vukic on today's home opening victory. "It was nice to come out here and prove something. Like I said before the game, we had to come out here and play for each other and not for ourselves, and that's why we ended up on top today."
Westmont would avoid the shutout in the 87th minute after junior Emmanuel Akyen ripped one past Oaks goalkeeper Alex Palomarez for his team leading fourth score in just two games of action this year. Despite the goal, Palomarez compiled a solid performance with five critical saves throughout the course of 90 minutes.
Menlo jumped on the board first, after Cota broke through in the 18th minute for his (at the time) team leading second goal of the year. The junior forward found the back of the net after receiving a beautiful ball from senior Hugo Conchas, who was credited with his first assist of the season.
Cota officially ended the afternoon with a goal and an assist, earning high praise from his head coach after the match. "Andrew showed his creativity today and proved that when he has space and is on the attack, he can be very dangerous," commented Coach Keller on one of his newest Oaks.
Menlo will look to keep their season opening unbeaten streak alive, welcoming in Marymount College for the Oaks second home game of the year on Wednesday, September 12th. Kickoff is slated for 4:00pm.