CMS men’s soccer continues to dominate: Shutout streak reaches seven

Houston Engleman CM ’22 jumps to kick the ball mid-air in the Stags’ contest vs. Cal Lutheran Sept. 15. (Ian Poveda • The Student Life)

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team (7-0, 4-0 SCIAC) extended their season-opening shutout streak to seven games Sept. 19, defeating the Whittier Poets (3-4, 2-3 SCIAC) 3-0.

The seventh straight shutout is the longest such streak since 2004 for the Stags, who are showing plenty of promise after a disappointing 2017 season.

Coming into the 2018 season, CMS was ranked sixth out of the eight teams in the SCIAC. However, after the strong start to the season, sophomore defender Will Birchard CM ’21 is optimistic about the team’s ability to break into the top four and compete for the SCIAC title.

“We have realized we have so much more to give than last year, and with the team being so young, we have grown a lot,” Birchard said. “We’ve had a really good attitude on the team and everyone has realized they have a lot more to offer to the program.”

The most impressive part of the shining start to the 2018 soccer season has been the Stags’ rock-solid defense. Birchard praised Head Coach Matt Edwards for the way he heavily emphasizes a strong defense in practice and in games.

That emphasis has translated into wins for the Stags, and the defensive work of defenders Birchard and Adam Singer CM ’20 and first-year goalie Jacob Mays CM ’22 has allowed for an impressive streak of shutouts.

CMS and Cal Lutheran players jump to deflect a ball Sept. 15. (Ian Poveda • The Student Life)

“We take extreme pride in not letting a goal by, and everyone gives 100 percent to win the ball back,” Birchard said. “Our mentality has been to do anything at all costs not to concede a goal.”

The whole team has worked together to help the defensive line, and it has created a strong, cohesive team dynamic. With only two seniors in the program, the team is very young, and it has taken a group effort to create strong team chemistry.

However, Birchard emphasizes how “everyone knows their role on the team and everyone has stepped up and bought into the program.”

The Stags are excited and motivated to succeed, and Birchard highlighted the commitment to doing the little things in practice to stay healthy and continue to play well.

William Birchard CM ’21 runs the ball down the field during the CMS vs. Cal Lutheran men’s soccer game Sept. 15. (Ian Poveda • The Student Life)

Edwards has seen this buy-in from the players in their hard work on the field: “Our team always cares and wants to do well. They want to be pushed.”

Edwards is also looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead for CMS.

“We will continue to focus on details and nuances, so we continue to improve,” the coach said.

Birchard also emphasized the detail-oriented nature of the team, and how they have learned to adapt to their competition: “We have learned how to play other teams, and how to adjust our system to play more effectively, and that is what we will continue to do in our upcoming games.”

Looking forward, the Stags are scheduled to battle a string of SCIAC teams, starting with a marquee matchup at Redlands (5-1, 4-0 SCIAC) Sept. 22.

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