This Wednesday, Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer traveled to nearby Damien High School to take on a La Verne team lacking their own playing field. The small field—60 x 100 yards compared to P-P’s standard 75 x 115 field—prevented the Sagehens from playing their standard possession game and allowed La Verne to quickly plug any holes that did open up in their defense. But the P-P team still knocked the ball around quite a bit, keeping it in La Verne’s half for most of the game. Although it took an overtime goal from Boye Christiansen to lift La Verne over P-P 1-0, both teams created plenty of chances.
From the very beginning, La Verne’s strategy was to sit back in their own half and look to counter. But even “counter” is a poor description for what in reality was just a series of long balls. Yet La Verne still recorded a fair number of shots. Although the Leopards struggled to string many passes together, their speedy front man Erek Brown ’13 created problems in the P-P backline, allowing his team to create chances off their hopeful balls forward. P-P’s best shots of the half came in the 40th minute. Adam Lewis’s PO ’15 30-yard rocket of a shot forced La Verne goalkeeper Richard Duran ’13 to tip the ball over the bar, and Munoz’s header on the subsequent corner kick required another save from Duran. In this first period, P-P dominated La Verne, outshooting them 12-5.
The game opened up in the second half as both teams went at each other’s throats for the win. Arash Mahboubi PO ’15 nearly put his team on top early in the half in the 48th minute with a rocket of his own. Soon after, in the 52nd minute, La Verne responded as Brown reached the endline before cutting the ball back for an open shot that his teammate skied over the net. At this point, between La Verne’s long balls and P-P’s speedy passing, the pace of the game quickened. In fact, in the 57th minute, within a span of about 30 seconds, three shots were recorded. First, Michael Ceragioli PO ’14 nearly scored when he snuck in behind the Leopard defense and forced a breakaway save from Duran. Duran immediately picked up the ball and punted it the length of the field to Brown, before a desperate tackle from Munzer prevented an open shot. P-P’s immediate counterattack set up Nate Shekita PO ’15, but Duran tipped his shot out of play with a little help from his crossbar. Although each team recorded 11 shots and numerous high quality chances in this half alone, the score read 0-0 at the end of regulation. Then, just 2 minutes and 35 seconds into overtime, La Verne’s Christiansen put a well-struck 25-yard bender past P-P goalkeeper Rollie Thayer PO ’13 to give his team the win.
Despite the loss, the location brought back some real memories for Evan Munoz PZ ’12, who attended Damien High School.
“I have great memories from this place,” Evan remarked before the game. “The La Verne goalie is actually a friend of mine that also played at Damien so it’s a little weird to be back here trying to put one past him.”
Monday, the Sagehens played last week’s rescheduled game against Whittier and prevailed with a tough 1-0 win. In the 13th minute, Danny Nasry PO ’13 dribbled past four defenders to reach the endline. This allowed him to slot the ball back to McDonald, who promptly finished. The rest of the game, P-P battled hard to overcome a very large, athletic Whittier team that rammed long ball after long ball up the throat of the Sagehen defense. The game nearly got out of control as an unapologetic referee whistled 32 fouls (20 for Pomona-Pitzer) and 6 yellow cards (3 for each team). Although Whittier technically outshot Pomona-Pitzer 8-4, the Sagehens more seriously threatened the Poets’ goal, forcing breakaway saves and goal-saving tackles as their savvy passing play earned them multiple high-quality chances.
McDonald summed up this very physical game when he said, “The Whittier players were nasty. They came out with an intensity we hadn’t yet seen in SCIAC play. But the entirety of our lineup put in the effort necessary and it paid off with a gritty win.”
Last Saturday, Pomona-Pitzer put in an improved effort but still could not overcome a team that is becoming this season’s in-league rival. P-P battled Redlands for nearly the entire first half before Bulldog forward Alex Laughton scored to give his team the lead. In the second half, the Sagehens ceded another goal to Redlands just three minutes into the period.
Although the final score read 2-0 Redlands over Pomona-Pitzer, the Sagehens were in no way dominated, as they had 11 shots over the course of the game. The Sagehens’ best chance came after a long ball up the sideline from Erik Munzer PZ ’13 gave Lawrence McDonald PO ’15 the chance to cross, setting up Avery Raimondo PO ’15 for a deft flick across the face of the goal that forced Redlands goalkeeper Andreas Silva to extend himself on the ground to keep the ball out of his net.
The Sagehens return home this Saturday at 11 a.m. to take on cross-campus rivals CMS, who will be looking to make up for their 2-0 loss to the Sagehens earlier this season.