The Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team clinched the SCIAC regular season title with three 1-0 wins over Caltech, University of Redlands and Occidental College.
The Sagehens entered Wednesday’s game against Caltech needing only a win to earn first place. Arash Mahboubi PO ’15 got the Sagehens off to the quick start they needed, beating several Beaver defenders like they owed him money and slipping a shot past an overmatched goalkeeper less than four minutes into the game. Mahboubi’s goal, his second of the season, would prove to be all the Sagehens needed.
Earlier in the season, the Sagehens beat Caltech 4-0, but Beaver defense proved to be tougher this time around. Despite controlling the flow of play and outshooting the Beavers 20-5, the Sagehens were not able to connect again. However, they did not need it, thanks to strong performances along the back line and from goalie Rollie Thayer PO ’13 that stymied Caltech’s attack.
On Monday, the Sagehens had a crucial showdown at Redlands. The Bulldogs, who made last year’s NCAA tournament as an at-large selection, were tied with the Sagehens for first place in the conference. Both teams threatened in a hard-fought scoreless first half, but the Sagehens struck when a long throw-in from Erik Munzer PZ ’13 was deflected by Avery Raimondo PO ’15 and finished by Ryan Miller PO ’14 midway through the second half. The Bulldogs made a few late charges and put a dangerous shot on goal with fewer than 10 seconds left, but the Sagehen defense held to seal an enormous 1-0 win.
Miller’s goal was just the third of his college career, but it was his second huge game winner in the last week. While not as flashy and dramatic as his diving header in double overtime against Whittier College, he showed his knack for being in the right place at the best possible time for the Sagehens. With Miller’s recent bout of scoring, the Sagehens now have nine players who have scored more than once this year, and this balanced attack has been a huge part of their success.
Last Saturday, the P-P men’s soccer team overcame a toothless offensive performance in the first half to beat Oxy 1-0. Harris Levin PO ’13 beat the Tigers’ keeper five minutes into the second half, and—stop me if you have heard this before—a strong performance by the back line and Thayer ensured that was all the Sagehens needed.
The win over Caltech was the Sagehens’ tenth in a row, extending a streak that began Sept. 26. Over the streak, the Sagehens have outscored their opponents 21-4 and collected seven shutouts. They are now ranked sixth in the NSCAA West Region rankings, which gives them a chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if they do not win the conference tournament.
The regular-season championship is the second in four years for the team’s seniors.
“To get two SCIAC championships in four years is something I would’ve never imagined coming in,” captain Robbie Hull PO ’13 said. “The win streak is a great cap on it all. After starting the season unsure of what we [had,] having a winning streak and beating every team in the league at least once proved we deserve to be the number-one team in the conference.”
The Sagehens conclude their regular season with a home game against the University of La Verne on Saturday. After that, they will host a playoff game against Whittier or Claremont-Mudd-Scripps next week as they attempt to make the NCAA tournament. The Sagehens are playing their best soccer of the year at the perfect time, so their playoff game is a must-see.