On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) women’s soccer suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss to the Redlands Bulldogs at 7 p.m. on Pritzlaff Field in their third conference matchup of the 2023 season.
Following a victory in their season opener against George Fox, the Athenas went winless in their next five games, bringing their overall record to 1-4-1.
CMS’s primary challenge this season so far has been starting games off strong, conceding in the first 10 minutes in four of their past five losses. According to defender Annie McKinely CM ’25, going into the game, the team was looking to change this pattern, working to drive hard in the opening minutes of the game and set a strong tone.
“Last game, our mantra was focusing on the first five minutes,” McKinley said. “We’ve conceded a goal in the first five minutes of quite a few games. So we want to make it our goal to come out flying in the first half.”
And for the first five minutes, the Atheneas did command the pitch. Captain Kaitlyn Helfrich CM ’25 directed dangerous attacks, applying continued pressure on the Bulldogs keeper to keep CMS off of the scoreboard.
However, in the seventh minute of the game the momentum was quickly broken up. On the Bulldogs’ first offensive drive, a loose cross ricocheted off the head of a CMS defender, sneaking over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Sadie Brown CM ’26. Still, according to Flora Glantz CM ’27, the Athenas did not go down easily.
“I think that we held strong through the 90 minutes even after they scored that first goal,” Glantz said. “We knew that we had a lot of time ahead of us and it was just more attack-minded.”
From the kickoff following the goal to the end of the game, the Athenas laid on consistent pressure, outmatching the Bulldogs’ intensity and controlling play through the center with superior technical ability. Forward Riley Zitar CM ’26 found five shots over the course of the game. Three of these were on goal, single-handedly surpassing Redlands’ overall team total of two.
“I think that [Redlands were] physically bigger, but our technical side is much better than them,” Glantz said. “So even though they were maybe a little stronger, we’re able to kind of dribble through them and create those chances.”
The Athenas had their most promising opportunity in the final moments of the first half, when a Bulldogs defender took a CMS defender down mere feet outside of the penalty box. After the referee awarded that Bulldogs defender a yellow card, all 11 Athenas packed into the box. Brown left her box to take the freekick, leaving CMS’s defensive half unguarded. Pritzlaff Field was silent in anticipation of the kick, but, as was too common an occurrence that night, the ball squibbed out of play without finding an Athena’s boot. Brown said that trailing by just a goal inspired CMS to make a risky play in hopes of it paying off.
“We throw people out there just to try to get more chances,” Brown said. “So it’s like, ‘we’ve already gotten a goal behind us. What’s to stop us from pushing forward?’ We’ve become more aggressive in the sense that they’re not getting any more balls behind us. So it reinvigorates us.”
Undiscouraged, CMS kept their heads up and sprinted back to close out the final minutes, resulting in yet another shot on goal to close out the half.
After the halftime whistle the Athenas kept up their intensity. The small and shifty CMS side dominated a Redlands team that physically outmatched them, finding chance after chance, but suffered from a lack of confidence and decisiveness in the final third. Approaching the end of the second half, the Athenas earned consecutive corners, controlled play in the middle but still failed to execute the equalizer they needed.
“I think our work rate was there and our touches were there,” Glantz said. “It was just that final execution that we’re missing. We’re working on finishing those shots, getting the shots on target in the corners, which will hopefully lead to some goals.”
The Athenas said they hope to bounce back and earn their first SCIAC win against Whittier on Saturday, Sept. 23 to gain some momentum approaching the Sixth Street Rivalry game against Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, Sept. 30.