After Tough Losses, Athenas Find Rhythm in Win Against Regals

Megan Lo CM '19 swerves to kick the ball back into play during the game against Cal Lutheran Saturday, Sept. 17.

It is often from frustration that we find our best inspiration. After suffering a disheartening string of three one-goal losses, on Saturday, Sept. 17, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team (3-4, 1-1 SCIAC) took down the formerly undefeated California Lutheran University Regals (5-1-0, 1-1-0 SCIAC) in a one-goal win of their own.

The fateful shot came midway through the first half, scored by Laynee Laube CM '17 off a pass from Sarah Tocher CM '20. Clearly, the Athenas were ready to forget about their past disappointment.

"The loss to Pomona-Pitzer made us hungrier for a win. I also heard we haven’t beaten Cal Lutheran in the last three years so that definitely made us want it more," forward and center-midfielder Remi Edwards CM '19 said. "We just worked hard in practice—fixed things that we could have worked on. We raised our level of play in the first half this time, which definitely helped us pull out the win."

In their loss to the Sagehens, the Athenas came out slow in the first half, but head coach Keri Sanchez told TSL that she saw the team improve in the second half. In a post-practice meeting on Thursday following the loss, Sanchez said she "wanted to remind them that we are a really good team, and we play connected, and we play together."

She also noted that many of the goals allowed were solvable, that they had to keep working. "They were fired up," Sanchez said. "We had lost to Cal Lutheran—they ended our season last year, so I think that gives you a little bit more motivation to come in and do well."

As for the season to come, there is still work to be done. Edwards told TSL that the team is yet to find a consistent goal-scorer.

"Anybody on the team could do it; it’s just a matter of having the grit to do it," she said.

However, a team can’t survive on scoring goals alone. Goalkeeper Kelly McConnell HM ’17 played an integral role in Saturday’s win, tallying 10 saves and recording her third shutout of the young season.

“I think one big difference is the margin of error for goalkeepers. I don't have as much room for mistakes, so learning how to bounce back from critical mistakes has been an important mental aspect of my game,” McConnell said.

Sanchez agreed with Edwards that for any soccer team, scoring enough goals is the biggest challenge. 

"One of our greatest strengths is our depth, which we try to utilize throughout the game to keep high energy out on the field from the first to last minute," Sanchez said. She added that while team chemistry is not an issue, "we're always incorporating new players, and trying to figure how best to utilize what we have in terms of strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure we've necessarily found our best unit yet, who plays together well, but I think we're getting a little bit closer each game."

“I think a reachable goal for our team this year is to, of course, make it to the SCIAC tournament and hopefully NCAA play, so I’m just excited to play through the season, as long as we can for our seniors,” Edwards said.

Sanchez explained that opposing team's fans often outnumber CMS fans, even at home games. “CMS athletes are committed, hard-working, and just fun to watch in general. We’d love to have stands that could at least match our opponent’s,” she said.

“We need fans. We do well when we have a full cheering section,” Edwards added.

The Athenas have 13 games left to play in the regular season, including a rematch with the rival Sagehens on Oct. 8.