Men’s Soccer Faces Ill Luck in Openers, But Looks Forward

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Last Friday, your Pomona-Pitzer_x000D_
Sagehens travelled to Chapman University to take on a team that had scored nine goals in their first three matches. Before the game, Pomona-Pitzer coach Bill_x000D_
Swartz urged his team to stamp their foot on the game and impose their style of_x000D_
play—and this they did. 

For the first_x000D_
half, P-P looked dominant, keeping possession almost entirely in the_x000D_
Chapman half. Although Chapman still_x000D_
looked dangerous on the counter-attack, P-P’s technical excellence_x000D_
shined as they patiently passed the ball around, probing for opportunities to_x000D_
crack a solid Chapman defense. While_x000D_
early shots from Danny Nasry PO ’13, Robbie Hull PO ’13, and Michael Ceragioli PO ’14 threatened_x000D_
Chapman’s goal, Pomona-Pitzer’s back four, anchored by Erik Munzer PZ ’13 and_x000D_
sporting three freshmen, held Chapman to very few chances. Chapman struggled to keep the ball or string_x000D_
any passes together. Their best chance of the first half came on a free kick that_x000D_
glazed off the crossbar as time ran out. 

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Chapman, apparently recognizing the_x000D_
technical superiority of their opponent, stormed into the second half hoping_x000D_
for a physical battle—and that’s what they got. The start of the second half emerged as a battle between competing_x000D_
styles of play as Chapman sought to take control of the game. Even here, Pomona-Pitzer looked the better_x000D_
team. But then a skillful combination of flicks in P-P’s penalty area_x000D_
gave Chapman their first goal, scored by Mauricio Alfonso. Rattled by this inversion, the Sagehens struggled_x000D_
to keep the ball as they had done in the first half. The patient composure of the first half_x000D_
quickly turned to frustration as they sought to play long balls over the top of_x000D_
Chapman’s defense. With the ball_x000D_
bouncing back and forth across the field, Chapman’s physical style prevailed_x000D_
over a technically better, but smaller, P-P team.  Chapman’s shots jumped from three in the first_x000D_
half to ten in the second half. A rare_x000D_
direct goal off a corner kick, coming again from Alfonso, secured the win for_x000D_
Chapman.

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Concerning the environment of the_x000D_
game, Chapman’s first-class athletic facilities contrasted sharply with an_x000D_
apparently classless Chapman fan base. If these rude and drunken fans represent_x000D_
the broader Chapman community, they should be embarrassed.  The tasteless taunts coming from the stands were reminiscent of  immature high-schoolers looking to make up for their own_x000D_
awkward self-consciousness by criticizing others.  Player-specific harassing after the game took disrespectfulness to a new level nearing cruelty. Needless to say, P-P’s_x000D_
next game with Chapman promises to be an extremely competitive endeavor.

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Right from the start of Wednesday night’s game, the Redlands Bulldogs looked hungry for the back of the net. Seeming to have more energy,_x000D_
Redlands created numerous quality shots in the first ten minutes.  After their first goal, coming off a cross and volley,_x000D_
the Sagehens seemed to bounce back, quickly taking control of the game.  For the rest of the half, P-P dominated possession while Redlands struggled to string more than a few passes_x000D_
together.  Unfortunately, one of_x000D_
Redlands’s few chances in the second part of the first half happened to be a_x000D_
25-yard rocket of a shot that put them up 2-0. _x000D_
Pomona-Pitzer’s best chance came off a long string of passes, ending_x000D_
with a quick combination to give Evan Munoz PZ ’12 an opportunity to put the Sagehens_x000D_
on the scoreboard—Munoz was called offside.

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Redlands’s third goal early in the second half would put Pomona-Pitzer away.  From that point forward, the Sagehens seemed_x000D_
to lose hope: the final score read 6-0—despite numerous saves and notable_x000D_
performances from goalkeepers Rollie Thayer PO ’13 and Nigel Brady PO ’15.   

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Although_x000D_
the scorelines of these two games seem to suggest a completely outmatched and_x000D_
hopeless Sagehen soccer team, their performance on the field reveals a very_x000D_
talented, but obviously underperforming, soccer team.  In their match against Redlands, P-P controlled the ball more than their opponent, but simply could not break_x000D_
them down in the final third.  It is also_x000D_
worth noting that the Sagehens started four freshmen in both games—not to_x000D_
mention a host of others that saw game time. _x000D_
These extremely talented young players are still adjusting to the more_x000D_
physical nature of the college game.  There’s no doubt that many of the Sagehens are better soccer_x000D_
players, in terms of vision, technical ability, and skill, than their_x000D_
opponents.  Once the team finds a way_x000D_
to match the physical aggressiveness of their opponents, they will surely win games.

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Sagehens return home this Saturday against La Verne at 11a.m. Come check out_x000D_
this very talented squad that will surely be seeking to prove_x000D_
themselves to their home crowd!

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