Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer sent out a warning to fellow SCIAC competitors by routing defending champion Chapman University 4-1 at home Saturday, Sept. 28. Having lost by the same score line in last year’s championship game, P-P came out highly motivated and took the game to the visitors. Nicole Quilliam PO ’15 and Danika Bethune PO ’17 continued their strong starts to the season, with Quilliam putting up two goals and an assist and Bethune scoring two more to ensure P-P’s victory. With this resounding win, the Sagehens improved to 5-1-1 overall and 3-1 in SCIAC, while the Chapman Panthers fell to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in SCIAC.
Having edged out Claremont-Mudd-Scripps thanks to an overtime goal from Bethune last time on the field, P-P looked to make it to two wins on the trot. The home side started brightly, lining up in its usual 4-2-3-1 fluid formation. However, there was an air of caution about the team as the two central midfielders, “the double pivot,” tended to sit deeper, which was a testament to Chapman’s offensive prowess.
Bethune tested the visitors’ goalkeeper early on with a decent shot in the 10th minute. The home side slowly increased its influence on the game as it began to retain the ball more effectively. However, the breakthrough came from a set piece. In the 25th minute, defender Ari Sanchez PO ’14 sent a long weighted ball into the box and confusion among the defenders allowed Quilliam to take advantage, tucking the ball just inside the right post to give P-P the lead.
Things got worse for the visitors just a minute later when they conceded a free kick just outside the box. P-P’s talisman, Allie Tao PO ’14, showcased her dead ball abilities by beautifully curling the ball around the wall and on target. Chapman goalkeeper, Marissa Fehrman, made a brilliant save but, unfortunately for the Panthers, the rebound fell straight to Quilliam, who slotted the ball into the empty net to give P-P a 2-0 lead. The first half ended with that score line, with both teams jostling for possession and failing to create any clear-cut chances in the run of play.
However, just like against CMS, P-P started slow in the second half and nearly allowed the visitors to get back into the game. Chapman came out looking for an early goal, and that is exactly what it got. In the 53rd minute, clever passing down the left wing allowed Chapman’s Julia Diaz a one-on-one opportunity, but she was brilliantly denied by P-P goalkeeper Corey Goelz PO ’17. Unfortunately, the thrill of Goelz’s save was short-lived as Val Sobol scored for Chapman from the resulting corner after lackluster marking, bringing the score to 2-1.
Chapman got more offensive as it pushed on in search of the equalizer. Diaz tested Goelz with several shots but the home side’s keeper was up to the task. Later on, winger Rosie Kerstetter sent a dangerous cross into the box, but Olivia Do mistimed her kick and failed to put a shot on goal. Coach Tony Basso sent out Tao again for some attacking impetus, and she nearly sealed the win with a left-footed drive that seemed destined for the top corner of the goal but narrowly missed the net.
Nonetheless, the home side weathered the storm, and, with the Panthers getting more desperate for the equalizer with time running out, the Sagehens were able to hit them on a breakaway. Quilliam and Bethune combined in the 83rd minute to restore the two-goal cushion. Quilliam was released on the right wing and she smartly bode her time on the outside before cutting the ball back to Bethune, who neatly passed the ball into the net.
But the home side wasn’t done just yet. Bethune, who despite being a first-year is proving to be a vital cog in the team, showcased her ability in the 89th minute. Picking up the ball on the left edge of the box, she slalomed past three defenders before executing a powerful sliding finish into the top corner to make the score 4-1 before the final whistle blew.
Basso seemed satisfied with the team’s performance, despite its nearly allowing Chapman back into the game. P-P was prolific in front of goal, converting most of the chances it created.
P-P traveled to Whittier College on Wednesday and pulled out a 1-0 victory to extend its win streak to three games while keeping the top spot in SCIAC. The Sagehens will hit the road this Saturday to face off against Redlands University.