After wins against Occidental and Cal Lutheran, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team clinched a SCIAC playoff spot and is set to play CMS or Redlands next Wednesday.
Last Saturday, Pomona-Pitzer traveled to Occidental to take on the Tigers in a small, cage-like field stamped on the side of a mountain. From the very beginning, P-P challenged Oxy’s goal, earning five corner kicks in the first ten minutes. Occidental dug deep into the trenches on every one of these set pieces as they brought back all 11 players to make the 18-yard box a mess of flailing limbs. While P-P’s back line comfortably collected every desperate clearance and fed the ball forward for chances, Occidental struggled to string any number of passes together. In the 24th minute, the Sagehens finally capitalized on their hard work as a corner kick from Mark Raftery PO ’15 squirmed onto the floor of the six-yard box before Larry McDonald PO ’15 smashed the ball into the back of the net, securing his place as the team’s leading goal scorer with his fifth goal of the season. Over the course of the game, the Sagehens caused problems off set pieces, as they earned 13 corner kicks to the Tigers’ zero. On top of this, captain and defender Erik Munzer PZ ’13 effectively added to the number of free kicks as he stepped into the offensive third to take over ten long throw-ins.
In the second half, Occidental slowly struggled back, gaining confidence and taking more shots, but the players failed to ever seriously challenge Pomona-Pitzer goalkeeper Rollie Thayer PO ’13. Their best chance came when a missed clearance gave the Tigers a free volley at the top of the box. The shot forced Thayer to make his only diving save of the game. The Sagehens struggled to create as many chances as they had in the first half, but still managed to hold onto the lead for a 1-0 win.
On Wednesday, Danny Nasry PO ’13 recorded a goal and an assist in Pomona-Pitzer’s 3-1 defeat over Cal Lutheran as four seniors (Gator Halpern PO, Evan Munoz PZ, Nate Anderson PO and Owen Hawkins PO) played their last home game for the Sagehens.
Forward Avery Raimondo PO ’15 opened the scoring early, heading Erik Munzer’s long throw past Cal Lutheran goalkeeper Chris Holm in the eighth minute. Although Raimondo nearly scored again in the 15th minute after fellow first-year forward McDonald’s header put him in behind the defense, Cal Lutheran rebounded well from the Sagehens’ goal and began to string passes together in both halves. Their possession paid off in the 18th minute when 6’ 3” forward Luke Kurzon rose above the Pomona-Pitzer back line to head his teammate’s long cross past Thayer. For a short period in the middle of the first half, momentum flowed with Cal Lutheran as they looked more and more confident on the ball.
Soon after Kurzon’s goal, Thayer made the save of the game when he lunged to his right, managing to get the tips of his fingers on a volley from Kingsmen forward Luis Santana in the 28th minute. As the Sagehens countered Cal Lutheran’s pressure, Nasry re-energized his team, nearly finding the back of the net twice in the 33rd minute and again in the 38th as his dribble penetration allowed him to fire off three shots that sailed just wide of the goal. In the 37th minute, Nasry slotted Arash Mahboubi PO ’15 through the midfield, who promptly beat his defender and slid the ball past Cal Lutheran goalkeeper Chris Holm, giving P-P the lead. Three minutes later, Nasry earned a goal of his own when he leaped over his defender to head a corner kick from Nate Shekita PO ’15 into the goal, making the score 3-1.
In the second half, McDonald set up multiple shooting opportunities for himself and nearly extended his team’s lead on multiple occasions, but he couldn’t quite find the back of the net. Holm came up big for the second time this game when he saved McDonald’s breakaway effort in the 68th minute.
When asked about the second half, McDonald responded positively, saying, “You know, some days the goals come easy, and some days it seems like no matter what you do you can’t score. Today I had a few chances and I just couldn’t force it in.”
For the rest of the second half, the score line remained the same as both teams struggled to create chances or hold onto the ball.
This Saturday, Pomona-Pitzer travels to Whittier for their last regular season game of the year. With a win over Whittier, the Sagehens would earn second place in SCIAC and a home game against CMS on Wednesday, Nov. 2. A tie against Whittier would leave the Sagehens in third place facing CMS at CMS, and a loss to Whittier would leave the Hens in fourth place, playing at Redlands.