The Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team won a thriller against conference opponent Whittier College on a diving header from Ryan Miller PO ’14 eight minutes into the second overtime period. The win was the Sagehens’ seventh in a row and kept them tied for first place in the SCIAC.
“It felt great walking off the field with a win after having given up the equalizer in the second half,” Miller said.
Whittier dealt the Sagehens their last loss, a 6-2 defeat on Sept. 22. Eager to prove that the result was a fluke, P-P struck first when Miller slipped behind the defense on a through ball late in the first half. His shot was saved by Whittier’s goalie, but captain Robbie Hull PO ’13 buried the rebound for his third goal of the year.
Coming off a week’s rest, the Sagehens threatened for most of the first half, accumulating an 8-0 edge in corner kicks and a 12-5 shot advantage, but they were unable to convert until Miller’s goal. Hull came closest, with a header off a corner saved at point-blank range, and Avery Raimondo PO ’15 had a shot inside the box saved, but the Poets’ defense was able to prevent the Sagehens from taking a commanding lead.
Whittier came out stronger to begin the second half, and they put pressure on goalie Rollie Thayer PO ’13, who finished with five saves. Whittier nearly equalized on a header that went off the crossbar midway through the half and then finally connected on a ball that was played behind the Sagehen defense and slipped past Thayer.
The two overtime periods were much more wide open than the second half, and both teams had good chances to score. Hull had a header stopped with a diving save, and Miller—in a bit of dramatic foreshadowing—narrowly missed a header in the box.
Miller’s golden goal came on a cross from Nate Shekita PO ’15. The cross looked like it was too far, but Miller came out of nowhere and, with a full-extension dive, headed the ball inside the far post to give the Sagehens a crucial win.
“Nate played me an incredible ball,” Miller said. “All I had to do was get on the end of it, and I knew we’d win.”
The Sagehens were playing without strikers Lawrence McDonald PZ ’15 and Guy Thyer PO ‘16, but they were given a boost with the return of midfielder Danny Nasry PO ’13 and the strong plays from Miller and Raimondo. Nasry had several shots, and, as mentioned earlier, Miller had a goal and an assist, which made him the twelfth Sagehen to score this year. This depth has played a huge role in the team’s success.
Over the Sagehens’ seven-game winning streak, they have outscored opponents 18-4. In the process, they have beaten every team in the SCIAC except for the University of Redlands, and they have done it with several different starting lineups due to injuries.
The win gives the Sagehens a conference record of 9-2-1, which ties them for first with Redlands. This week, they will play two road games against Occidental College and Redlands on Saturday and Monday. Oxy is in fourth place in the SCIAC, and wins against them and Redlands would put the Sagehens in great position to host a playoff game in the SCIAC.