After Two Hard-Fought Battles, Hens Remain Undefeated in League Play

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team maintained its undefeated start to SCIAC play this
past week, eking out a hard-fought draw at California Lutheran University and downing Chapman University at
home to go atop the league standings. The Sagehens (6-2-1, 4-0-1 SCIAC)
headed into their trip to Cal Lutheran Sept. 27 riding a three-game winning streak to open the SCIAC season but found the early going slightly
difficult against the obdurate Regals. 

The opening part of the first half saw
both teams split possession but struggle to do anything with it before the home side
started to work its way into the game. After drawing a save from goalkeeper Annie Wedel PO
’16 in the 21st minute, Cal Lutheran hit the lead in the 26th. Katie Moyer found fellow midfielder Kali Youngdahl in space as the latter
slotted home the first goal of her collegiate career. Despite falling behind,
the Sagehens failed to rally much of a response for the rest of the first half,
testing Regals goalkeeper Kristin Bailey only once before halftime as Cal Lutheran controlled most of the proceedings.

The second half, however, saw the
visitors begin to come into their own as their offense began to gain in
fluency. The ever-influential Nicole Quilliam PO ’15 and Nadia Alaiyan PO ’17
forced Bailey into saves in quick succession midway through the second period
as the Regals were forced onto their back foot. Still, with less than 10 minutes to
go, the Sagehens had failed to find an equalizer, and a first conference defeat
was looming. 

That all changed in the 85th minute, as Abby Gold PO
’18 collected a pass from fellow first-year Sofia Barsher PZ ’18 and hit a sweet
strike into the top right corner from outside the box. The goal was already the fourth of this season for Gold, who has made a fast start to her collegiate
career as an offensive spearhead for P-P. 

Speaking after the game, Gold
attributed her strike to the team’s overall attacking mindset.

“We have a
really strong offensive line. We push up a lot, we have our defense pushing up
a lot, our midfield and our center attacking mid working well together … coming
out strong and pushing up a lot is helping [me score goals],” Gold said.

Having
found the leveler, the Sagehens were coasting on an apparent high as the game went to overtime and nearly finished in the first period, with Barsher and Gold both
having attempts kept out by Bailey. Unfortunately, a second goal was not in the
cards for P-P, and the second period of overtime petered out as the two
understandably tired teams played out a 1-1 draw. Despite losing the game they had so successfully started, the result was a positive one for the Sagehens, who
showed fine resiliency to emerge with a draw. 

“We have a lot of heart,” Gold said. “In the last few minutes we pushed really, really hard … it just
showed the passion we have for the game.”

Having dug deep for the draw, P-P
came out against Chapman Oct. 1 in fierce fashion early in the match. After pouncing on a
loose Chapman clearance in the sixth minute, Gold threaded a pass to
Barsher, who beat goalkeeper Kristin Kleinow one-on-one to give the Sagehens the
advantage. P-P had a chance to put the game out of sight within the first 30
minutes, with midfielder Katie Tao PO ’17 and FB Jamie Kerester PO ’17 both hitting the post in the 18th and 28th minutes, respectively. 

The Sagehens
had the first 14 shots of the game in the first half in a show of offensive
dominance but had a much tougher second half as the Panthers spurred
themselves into action. Wedel had to be sharp to repel efforts from Haley
Fedden and Hayley Thorfinnson in the 65th and 67th
minutes, before P-P finally notched the second goal of the game in the 79th. 

A well-measured cross from Kerester found the head of Julia Dohner PO
’16, who cut in front of Kleinow to put the Sagehens in front 2-0. It looked
to be game over at that point, although the Panthers did get a goal of their
own in the 87th minute as Rebeccah Bortz tapped in a rebound after a Fedden
free kick bounced off the crossbar. 

Despite the slightly nerve-wracking ending, P-P held on for another victory, which, coupled with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ 3-2 double overtime loss at University of Redlands on the same evening, took the Sagehens to the top of the SCIAC
standings ahead of the Saturday, Oct. 4, home game against Whittier College.

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