P-P Women’s Soccer Falters Late, Falls to Second in SCIAC

Only a minute away from victory, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team suffered a 3-2 defeat to California Lutheran University in overtime Wednesday. With the win, Cal Lu rose to first place in SCIAC, while the Sagehens fell to second. Coming off a solid victory at Redlands University, P-P had hoped to assert itself as the SCIAC favorite with a victory over joint leader Cal Lutheran, whom P-P defeated in last year’s SCIAC semi-finals.

However, the Sagehens never completely found their flow. Lining up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, the home side was unable to quickly pass the ball around and recycle possession, which was largely due to constant rain and an extremely soggy pitch. Lining up in a defensive narrow 4-3-3, Cal Lu looked to counteract P-P’s possession play by congesting the midfield. Additionally, after Nicole Quilliam PO ’17 scored twice against Redlands, the Regals made sure she did not get any space to operate with the visitors closely marking her.

The home side was quick to counteract their opponent’s measures, mainly via Allie Tao PO 14. Tao consistently dropped back into midfield to even up the numbers and maintain possession before releasing the wingers against their respective fullbacks, taking advantage of the visitors’ narrow formation. Tao also proved to be instrumental in the execution of the first goal.

With both sides jostling for midfield superiority for much of the first half, Tao created the first real chance of the game in the 37th minute, expertly controlling a cross and volleying in at the near post to test the goalkeeper. It was from the resulting corner, taken by Tao, that a defending player of the visitors, under pressure from Danika Bethune PO ’17, put the ball into her own net to hand P-P the lead. It could have gotten much worse for the visitors as Alyssa Kim PZ ’14 was played through to goal from a long ball in the final minute of the half, but she shot wide of the post, handing Cal Lu a lifeline.

The second half entailed more of the same, with each team trying to get the upper hand and the home side keeping up the intensity. The Sagehens had a scare when Cal Lu’s Bianca Deardoff went clean on goal, but Sagehen defender Taylor Fortson PO ’16 recovered and muscled her off the ball. However, P-P’s lead did not last long as they yet again conceded from a corner. In the 67th minute, goalkeeper Corey Goelz PO ’17 could only manage a weak punch to clear the corner, which fell straight to Cal Lu’s Taylor Will, who unleashed an exquisite first-time volley that went in off the crossbar to level the match.

The equalizer rejuvenated the home side, who almost immediately restored their lead thanks to Quilliam in the 71st minute. Escaping her marker, Quilliam ghosted inside from the right wing and passed to Agueda Dudley-Berrios PO ’17, who laid it back with a mesmerizing first-time back heel to put Quilliam through on goal. Quilliam then calmly chipped the ball beyond the visitors’ goalkeeper to put P-P in the lead.

The game looked won, with the visitors failing to create any sort of openings and Tao coming close with two left foot drives in the 77th and 85th minutes. However, the victory was not to be as Fortson committed a foul in the box with just a minute on the clock remaining, giving the Regals a conclusive penalty kick. Will, who already had scored in the match, sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to take the match into overtime.

While the home side was still comprehending recent events, they were dealt another unlucky blow just four minutes into overtime play. Cal Lutheran forward Kristina Hulse was released down the right wing and her cross deflected off a defender, causing the ball to loop over the keeper and into the net for the golden goal to complete the visitors’ remarkable comeback.

The dramatic defeat left P-P at 5-2 in SCIAC and 7-2-1 in overall play, while Cal Lutheran took first place at 6-1 and improved to 9-3 in overall play.

Earlier in the week, P-P earned a solid 2-1 victory in a tightly contested match at Redlands University, thanks to a brace of goals by Quilliam.

P-P will get its chance to redeem itself as the second half of the SCIAC conference begins when it travels to University of La Verne Saturday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.

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