Tussling with the Tuffy Titan Elephants, the men of the Claremont Colleges’ soccer club were ultimately stomped in a vocal and aggressive battle that saw Cal State Fullerton hand them a loss in their first game of the season.
On Saturday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m., the Claremont College men’s club soccer fell 1-0 to Cal State Fullerton at Parents Field, starting their fall 2023 season off with a loss.
The game began with Claremont on the attack. They maintained a fast-paced and aggressive tempo, pushing Fullerton onto the defensive. One of their several attacking chances resulted in Claremont putting the ball in the back of the net in just the first few minutes, but the goal was revoked due to an offside offense.
Nevertheless, Claremont continued to apply pressure on the Elephants. Andrew Palmer PZ ’26 said he was pleased with the team’s performance in the beginning of the first half.
“We were really pressing high and winning the ball up the field and putting the pressure on them,” Palmer said.
However, despite Claremont’s hot start, Fullerton found their grounding and the game transitioned into an even back and forth between both sides. Palmer explained the Elephants’ comeback could have been avoided, had Claremont been able to execute their chances.
“If we could have taken advantage of an opportunity we got there, the game could have gone a lot differently,” Palmer said.
Regardless of several near misses on both sides, the game remained a scoreless draw for the first 40 minutes.
However, in the final minutes of the first half, the stalemate was shattered. Fullerton’s high pressure helped them draw a corner and they were able to guide the ball into the box. It was met by the ready foot of an attacker who directed it swiftly past the Claremont keeper’s dive and into the goal, giving Fullerton the 1-0 lead.
Palmer said the team’s small moments of losing focus gave away a few too many chances, which allowed Fullerton to tilt the scale in their favor.
“We gave away a lot of setpieces and they capitalized on one of them,” Palmer said. “It’s just that part of being focused.”
As the half was nearing an end, Claremont had a burst of energy. They began to push aggressively and kept the ball in their attacking final third. Fullerton matched their energy and countered with a dangerous shot on frame, but it was denied by Claremont’s goalkeeper.
Ryle Faurot PZ ’26 said he noticed this pattern, noting that the team struggled in their execution, but remained strong in the back.
“Defensively, we looked quite solid and building out of the back we worked well,” Faurot said. “It was the attacking third in which we struggled.”
As the whistle blew to signify the end of the first half, Claremont walked lethargically off the field. Palmer said that going into the half trailing by a goal impacted the team.
“We probably could have picked ourselves up a bit more,” Palmer said. “Our mentality was good, but we just needed a little boost energy-wise.”
After regrouping at halftime, Claremont was able to re-energize. Five minutes into the second half, they launched a successful attack from the left wing and were able to successfully cross the ball into the box.
Still, similarly to the first half, the ball continued to be directed back and forth with both Claremont and Fullerton pressing forward then defending. In the 60th minute, Claremont had a promising attack. From a throw-in, Claremont got the ball into their forward and a well placed header was aimed on target but was saved by Fullerton’s keeper.
Although Claremont had many chances to score in the last few minutes of the game they still could not come through. Ari Benveniste PO ’25 described the team’s inability to gain momentum.
“I was hoping in those last 20 minutes we would just knock one in,” Benveniste said. “I think if we had just scored one the floodgates would have opened and we would have had it.”
Meanwhile, Faurot highlighted Claremont’s individual talent but described how they needed to work better as a unit.
“Our attacking players are very skillful,” Faurot said. “The lack of outcome was not due to any individual performance, but rather, a lack of a cohesive, practiced attack.”
Although they could not get anything going on offense, Claremont’s defense refused to let up to the bitter end. This was punctuated by a spectacular save from Claremont’s keeper.
“The last minute save our keeper [Otto Fritton PZ ’27] made was unbelievable,” Benveniste said. “The dying seconds to keep us in the game were pretty unreal.”
While Claremont may have come away with a loss in their first game of the season, Palmer didn’t necessarily see it as a negative.
“That’s just how the game works sometimes,” Palmer said. “You play really well, you just don’t get the result, but the performance was not bad at all.”
Claremont Men’s Club Soccer will continue their season at the Pomona turf fields, where they will face Cal Poly Pomona at 2 p.m. on Nov. 4.