NCAA postseason roundup: 5C soccer and cross-country teams advance, Athena volleyball knocked out early

A group of four male college students in cross country attire run down a dirt track.
Stevie Steinberg HM ’21 (399) leads the Claremont pack during the second lap of the West Regional championship race. Ethan Widlansky PO ’22 (275) finished as the champion with a time of 25:00 in the 8,000-meter race. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Sagehens top Stags for West Regional title as both cross-country squads advance to national meet

The West Regional cross-country meet at Pomona College on Nov. 16 was essentially a rematch of the SCIAC Championship earlier this month, with the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer men’s squads far outpacing the competition.

It was the Sagehens who came out on top this time, though, 33-43, as CMS was missing SCIAC individual champion Thomas D’Anieri CM ’20 and came in second.

Ethan Widlansky PO ’22 finished as the West Regional individual champion with a time of 25:00 in the 8,000-meter race, followed closely by the Stag pack of Stevie Steinberg HM ’21, Kyril van Schendel CM ’22 and Miles Christensen HM ’22, who finished 3-4-5, and Sagehen Owen Keiser PZ ’22 in sixth. Five Sagehens and three Stags saw top-10 finishes.

“Our team has been putting in a lot of great work through the whole season, and as we get into our taper, all that hard work is really gonna pay off,” said Ethan Ashby PO ’21, who finished 10th. “So I think a combination of physical preparation, mental toughness and belief in ourselves helped us come away with a good one today.”

CMS’ Steinberg is also feeling confident about his team’s prospects at nationals.

This feels like the first time in my career at CMS that we’ll be heading to nationals with the chance to make some real noise,” Steinberg said. “All of us on the postseason team are grateful to be in this position, because the team is deep enough that a lot of runners who didn’t move on this year would be making a big impact at regionals or nationals on other teams. The team-first mentality has been so beneficial for everyone.”

Both teams will compete at the NCAA Championship on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky; the No. 3 Sagehens and No. 5 Stags are both vying for podium finishes.

Three female cross country athletes run along a track.
Lila Cardillo PO ’22 (260) led all P-P and CMS runners and finished in second overall, followed by Helen Guo PO ’20 (261). (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

Sagehen harriers go 2-3 at West Regional meet, Athenas’ depth carries the day as teams prep for national race 

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s cross-country team put its top five runners in front of Pomona-Pitzer’s third to secure a 52-67 victory over P-P in the West Regional meet at Pomona College on Nov. 16.

Lila Cardillo PO ’22 led all P-P and CMS runners, and her time of 21:29 was good for second overall, followed by Helen Guo PO ’20 and Riley Harmon SC ’22.

It was a relatively close finish between the two programs, especially given CMS’ easy victory in the SCIAC Championship earlier this month.

I think our performance [at regionals] was motivated forward by SCIACs. We were proud of our performance there, but we were hungry for more,” Cardillo said. “We had lots of conversation[s] about racing for our team, for each other and keeping in mind that everyone hurts during a race — just knowing that we can get through that pain if we remember it’s for each other.”

Despite the smaller gap between the two teams, Dulcie Jones SC ’21 thinks CMS performed well.

“I think we ran well at regionals because we knew exactly what we needed to accomplish and because we felt confident,” she said. “For some reason people get nervous heading into the SCIAC Championship race, but at regionals, there is more of an excited energy, and we’re all just focused on being one of the top teams in order to earn an automatic entry into the national meet.”

The No. 10 Athenas and No. 14 Hens will conclude their season at the NCAA Championship on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky.

Stag soccer holds opponents scoreless, advances to Sweet 16

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team (16-3-2, 9-1-2 SCIAC) took down Texas Lutheran and Trinity University last weekend to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.

In the first round, the Stags dominated Texas Lutheran 2-0, getting off 18 shots — nine on target — while holding Texas Lutheran to six, with only one on target. William Birchard CM ’21 scored both goals in that game.

In the round of 32, the second match CMS played in San Antonio, the Stags continued their lockdown defensive effort, holding Trinity to four shots — one on target — while getting off 12 of their own, six of which were on target. Samay Rahim CM ’22 and Ethan Tyng CM ’22 each found the back of the net, securing another 2-0 victory.

“Going to the Sweet 16 is a surreal moment that I don’t think anyone on the team would have ever dreamt of when they first joined the program,” Adam Singer CM ’20 said. “It’s going to take a huge collective effort to make it out of this weekend in Ohio, but I don’t think there’s any group of guys more willing to prove themselves.”

The No. 13 Stags will take on Centre College on Saturday in Gambier, Ohio.

Athena soccer defeats SCIAC foe in penalties, moves on to Sweet 16 after surprise at-large bid

After finishing fifth in the SCIAC and receiving an unexpected at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the CMS women’s soccer team (11-4-4, 6-4-2 SCIAC) prolonged its postseason run by beating Emory and Cal Lutheran in the first two rounds last weekend.

The Athenas scored early in their first-round matchup against Emory, with Sarah Tocher CM ’20 beating the Eagles’ keeper in the third minute. Three minutes later, Emory came back with a goal of its own to tie the game.

In the 64th minute, Nicole Oberlag HM ’22 scored the game-winning goal off a rebound from an Athena penalty. On the other end of the pitch, Cam Hamson CM ’21 had several key second half saves to prevent Emory from equalizing.

Against Cal Lutheran, the game remained scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods, as neither team could find the upper-edge. The Athenas outscored the Regals in the penalty shootout 4-2, allowing them to advance to the Sweet 16 and get revenge against a team that finished ahead of them in the conference, despite falling to CMS in the regular season.

“After being given another chance to play in the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid, we were excited to be able to show teams what we’re made of,” Sam Ree CM ’22 said. “I think we all came into this weekend knowing that we just had to leave everything on the field. I think the team did an amazing job of maintaining our style of soccer despite the physical play, and I’m so happy we were able to get the results we hoped for.”

The Athenas play No. 3 WashU on Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sagehen soccer cruises to Sweet 16 following first-round goal fest

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team (19-1-1, 12-1-0 SCIAC) swept the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament with wins over their opponents in Iowa last weekend, advancing to the Sweet 16.

The Sagehens were firing on all cylinders in their 6-0 thrashing of St. Scholastica in the first round, ending the game with 23 shots — 11 on target — while limiting St. Scholastica to only six shots, one of which was on target.

Bria VarnBuhler PO ’20 led the Sagehens’ attack, finishing with a hat trick that put her in the Sagehen record book for most goals scored in a single season with 21. Sophie Staeger PZ ’23 scored twice, and Emily Tomz PO ’22 also found the back of the net.

P-P’s second round matchup against Wartburg was much tighter, as Anna Ponzio PZ ’22 scored the only goal in the Sagehens’ 1-0 victory.

“Coming and playing two games in tough conditions, unfamiliar conditions, one of the things I said to the group tonight before the game is that ‘we have an opportunity tonight to learn how good we are. We don’t quite yet know how good we can be.’ … Tonight we learned that we can go out and win a game in a place that’s not in our comfort zone,” head coach Jen Scanlon said in a NCAA postgame interview.

The No. 8 Sagehens will face No. 16 UChicago on Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri.

Athena volleyball’s playoff aspirations cut short by No. 4 opponent

The No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s volleyball team (27-4, 15-1 SCIAC) saw their season come to a close in a nail-biting, five-set loss to No. 4 Carthage in the NCAA tournament’s round of 32.

CMS took the first set with a score of 25-21, then narrowly dropped the next two sets, losing 25-22 and 28-26. However in the fourth set, the Athenas came back with a convincing 25-14 win.

In the final set, with the Athenas down 8-6, Carthage ripped off six straight points, going on to win 15-7.

Amanda Walker SC ’20 finished the game with 24 kills and 25.5 total points, while Melanie Moore CM ’21 bolstered the Athenas’ attack with 12 kills and 17 points.

The loss marks the end of an otherwise successful season for the Athenas, which finished with an overall record of 27-4 and a SCIAC title. The seniors, including standouts Walker and Phoebe Madsen CM ’20, end their collegiate careers with a national championship, won in 2017.

In the first round, the Athenas took down WashU 3-1 in four closely contested sets that each had a score differential of five or less.

The Athenas’ last game was “definitely bittersweet — we all felt like we were just getting started,” Walker said. “We all thought that we had our best games at the end of the season and we just came up short.”

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