P-P women’s soccer shuts out Oxy in ‘clinical’ victory, advances to SCIAC finals

A group of female athletes in white uniforms celebrate.
The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team celebrates Bria VarnBuhler’s PO ’20 goal during the SCIAC semifinal match Nov. 7. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team dominated its SCIAC semifinal match Thursday afternoon, burying Occidental 5-0 and advancing to the conference tournament final Saturday.

While the win was unsurprising considering P-P’s outstanding regular season (16-1-1, 11-1 SCIAC), this game was a shot at redemption for the Hens who lost the SCIAC championship last season to the Tigers in double overtime. This year, the difference in score was notable, as was the fact that five different players recorded the goals.

“We were very … clinical with our finishing,” head coach Jennifer Scanlon said. “We haven’t been like that all season long. There’s been plenty of games where we’ve dominated and had lots of shots, but nothing clinical to finish, so we were really good with our execution of our shots today to make sure they ended up being not just good chances but being goals.”

Throughout the season, Bria VarnBuhler PO ’20 and Hannah Mandell PO ’23 led P-P’s scoring. They were just named SCIAC Player of the Year and SCIAC Newcomer of the Year, respectively. The pair accounted for 25 of P-P’s 47 regular season goals.

“We were really good with our execution of our shots today to make sure they ended up being not just good chances but being goals.”  — Coach Jennifer Scanlon

In this matchup, Ciannah Correa PO ’22, Anna Ponzio PZ ’22 and Maya Nitschke-Alonso PO ’22 also got on the board to ensure the blowout. Goalkeepers Isa Berardo PZ ’20 and Lindsey Uteda PZ ’22 combined for the shutout.

“We’ve got players all over the field who are just high level players and when we’re all in sync together, we can compete with anybody,” Scanlon said.

Thursday’s win means the team will advance to the conference tournament final Saturday and face Cal Lutheran — the only SCIAC team P-P has lost to this season. 

“Cal-Lu is the second-place team in the conference for [a] reason and you know you wanna play the best competition you can in that kind of championship game,” Scanlon said.

A win Saturday would be especially significant for P-P’s senior class, who, despite having enjoyed successful regular seasons and NCAA tournament competition, has never taken home the SCIAC title.

“That’s been a goal in the back of our mind all season, and we had all the work to do to get to Saturday, and they’ve taken care of that,” Scanlon said. “But this Saturday definitely would mean a lot to the team and the program and that group of players in particular because it’s kind of the one feather in their cap that they have yet to achieve in their career.”

A win Saturday would also secure the No. 8 Sagehens’ spot in the NCAA postseason tournament, as the winner of the SCIAC tournament receives an automatic qualification. 

“We don’t [want to] leave anything to chance,” Scanlon said. “We can’t control who they select if we don’t have the [automatic qualification], so we [want to] make sure and take care of the thing that’s in front of us and the opportunity we have to seal that.”

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