CMS Bounces Back From Defeat in Big Way

After
a strong start to the season, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team
(3-1-1, 3-1-1 SCIAC) suffered their first loss of the season against Chapman
University (4-1-0, 4-0-0 SCIAC) on Sept. 20. With a final score of
5-1, the Stags fell short of their high expectations for the game.

 “Chapman is in first place right now, and we
are gunning for them. They are definitely one of our rivals,” Mehron Abdi CM
’17 said.

 However, the team regained their momentum in
the next game against the California Institute of Technology (0-8-0, 0-5-0
SCIAC) on Sept. 24 with a 7-0 home win.

 The team’s game against Chapman consisted of a
fairly even first half, with Chapman scoring first in the ninth minute of the
game and Abdi retaliating with a goal in the 11th minute.
Chapman’s second goal came in the final minutes of the first half, with three more
unanswered goals in the second half.

 “We lost the game, but they didn’t really win
that game,” interim head coach Sam Ullman CM ’12 said. “Most of their goals
came in the last ten minutes of each half, so that’s just mental errors on our
part.”

 While some teams might let such a loss get to
their heads and make them look at their upcoming games differently, the
Stags are treating this game as a learning experience.

 “We can use the loss positively, as fuel for
the next game to prove that we are the best team in SCIAC,” Abdi said. The team
will focus on remaining strong and playing hard for the rest of the season.

 The second game of the week against California Institute of Technology started off at a slower pace, with the Stags only scoring two of their seven
goals in the first half. That changed in the second half as the Stags
continuously penetrated Caltech’s goal for a dramatic ending. 

In the 85th
minute, Dylan Saffer CM ’17 capitalized on the team’s many opportunities in
front of the goal to score the fifth goal of the game. Quickly following in the
next two minutes, Alex Censullo CM ’17 created a goal-scoring
opportunity through the Stags’ strategic passes to one another. Thirty seconds later,
Saffer scored the final goal of the game unassisted.

 Michael Wagenveld CM ’18 scored three of the
seven goals, with Saffer next in line with two goals and two assists.

 These two games are the first played under new interim head coach Sam Ullman.

“We
are still adjusting to his type of coaching tactics; he is really a great
tactical coach, and he knows how to play the game,” Abdi said.

 Although the transition between coaches has
been difficult for the team, the soccer experience that Ullman has makes him
more approachable to players as they know he will help them with any problems. Becoming head coach has also been a change for
Ullman. 

“I’ve learned a lot in my first few games,” Ullman said. “I am just
trying to get the most out of the guys in terms of their play. They definitely
have the ability to play soccer, and they have it in them to win.”

The Stags have a great amount of skill on their team as
well as strong camaraderie between the players. Following the loss against Chapman, the team was able to support one another and come back with a positive outlook.

“The captains do a really good job in keeping
everyone positive on the field and bringing the team together,” Abdi said. “The loss
[against Chapman] won’t affect us too much, and I think we’re really good at
bouncing back.”

As the team will play Chapman again on Oct. 6
at home, there is some expectation and excitement fueling the team to play well
the rest of the season.  

“We try to focus
on the next game at hand, and we don’t look too far forward,” Abdi said. “[But] there is
always a little motivation in us to look at that game, and it’s always in the
back of our mind to beat Chapman.”

The Stags will play next against Whittier College tomorrow, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. 

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