The Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team started their 2012 campaign 3-3 with a win over Chapman, bookended by losses to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and UC Santa Cruz in the last week.
The Sagehens, led by Coach William Swartz, return as a young and balanced team eager to improve on last year’s 10-9 record. Five goals by Lawrence McDonald PZ ’15 led the Sagehens’ deep attack last year, as eight members of the team scored multiple times. The Sagehens depend on important contributions from four seniors: goalie Rollie Thayer PO ’13 and defender Eric Munzer PO ’13 anchor the defense, Robbie Hull PO ’13 provides stability in the midfield and Danny Nasry PO ’13 helps head the attack.
The Sagehens also picked up a few key players in the off-season. Drew Lind PZ ’14 transferred from Boston University and is currently tied for the team lead in goals with two goals to his name. Freshman Guy Thyer PO ’16 has been effective at striker with two goals thus far.
On Tuesday, the Sagehens fell to UC Santa Cruz 1-0 in their final non-conference game of the year. The Banana Slugs scored on a counterattack 18 minutes into the game, and despite some good chances on goal in the second half, the Sagehens were never able to equalize. The Sagehens were not able to capitalize on a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks in a defensive and, at times, chippy game.
Last Saturday, the Sagehens notched their second conference win of the year with a victory over Chapman. Nasry picked up his second goal of the season on a great individual ply, splitting defenders to break up an attempt to head the ball back to the keeper and giving the Sagehens a lead they would not relinquish. Nate Shekita PO ’15 added another goal off an assist from Hull. This was the Sagehens’ strongest effort this year. They attacked steadily and defended so well that goalie Nigel Brady PO ’15 did not have to make a save.
The win over Chapman was preceded by a tough 6-1 loss to rival CMS. The Sagehens allowed a goal on the rebound to a penalty kick just ten minutes into the game and proceeded to fall behind 3-0 in the first half. Hull briefly gave the Sagehens hope with an incredible goal from 30 yards out, but that would prove to be all that they could muster. CMS added three more goals in the second half, including another penalty kick and an own goal.
There were several bright spots over the past week. Lind made a smooth transition to his new team, proving highly effective in the midfield and along the back line as a defender and distributor. Excluding the CMS game, the Sagehens have allowed only three goals in five games, a testament to their talented and physical defense.
The win over Chapman gave the Sagehens a 2-1 conference record, good for second place in SCIAC. Last year, the Sagehens’ 9-6 conference record was good enough for fourth place and the final playoff spot.
The Sagehens’ conference schedule continues with games at Whittier College on Saturday and against Redlands at home on Monday. Both of these teams made the SCIAC playoffs last year, so these games will be a good test of where the team is right now.
There was a decent-sized crowd at the game against CMS, but otherwise, the Sagehens have not been drawing many people to the P-P field; UC Santa Cruz had more fans in attendance than the Sagehens did. The P-P men’s soccer team is primed for a great season, and their combination of talent and experience should make them fun to watch.