Two Deciding Goals Prove to Be the Difference in P-P Wins

The Pomona-Pitzer
men’s soccer team (8-2-1, 6-1-1) solidified its top position in the SCIAC
conference as the season concluded its first stretch of games with a tense 1-0
victory at Caltech (0-10, 0-7 SCIAC) on Oct. 1. Jake Merkle PO ’18 ensured his team got the
victory, putting the visitors ahead after Caltech failed to clear a corner in
the 52nd minute. With the late-game goal, P-P took first
position with CMS closing in at 5-1-1 and a game in hand. Meanwhile,
Caltech stays rooted to the bottom of the standings after the defeat.

The visitors
travelled to Caltech expecting an easy game, but they failed to fire on
all cylinders in the first half. The home side showed great courage and went
toe to toe with the current leaders of the SCIAC conference in a very evenly
contested first half in which both goalies were barely tested. Mark Raftrey
PO ’16 had the best chance at netting the ball when his shot hit the crossbar in the ninth
minute.

In the second half, the
Hens turned it on and worked together to dominate in the final part of the game. It didn’t take them long to take the lead as well. Extensive pressure led to a
corner, which was delivered perfectly by Nathan Shekita PO ’15. Raftrey was able
to control the ball in the box and set up Merkle for a simple finish beyond the
goalkeeper to give the Sagehens the all-important first goal. 

The Sagehens
continued to pressurize the home side and led 16-0 in shots in the
second half but failed to add to their goal tally. However, a second goal
didn’t end up being required as P-P’s defense stayed resistant and
barely allowed Caltech to create any meaningful chances. Thus, the visitors
cruised to victory after Merkle calmed the nerves by scoring the pivotal goal.

Earlier in
the week, P-P hosted Chapman Sept. 27, looking to bounce back from
their first defeat of the season against University of Redlands. Losing to Redlands in overtime
seemed to motivate the home side as they dominated the proceedings from the
offset. Lining up in an offensive 4-2-2-2 formation, Felipe Galvis PO ’17 and
Voja Maric PO ’17 hustled opposing defenders as they looked to grab an early
lead. The Hens combined this aggressive pressing with consistent possession of
the ball, never allowing the visitors to settle into the match. As the match
went by, Chapman grew increasingly defensive leading to fewer clear cut
chances for both teams. P-P took seven shots in the first half but failed to
adequately test the opposing goalkeeper as the first half came to a close.

Nonetheless,
the Sagehens came out in the second half determined to get the victory
and were finally rewarded for their attacking play. In the 46th minute,
Shekita missed a glorious chance to put the home side ahead. Galvis crossed
from the right wing, and a clever dummy left Shekita with the goal at his mercy, but he aimed high. Despite the missed shot, Maric grabbed the first goal of the match
only a minute later. Drew Lind PZ ’15 showed great vision and played a precise
long ball into Maric’s path, who was able to hustle the defender off the ball
and then tucked the ball under the onrushing goalkeeper to score the decisive
goal of the match.

Maric nearly made it 2-0 in the 50th
minute. Though his first shot was blocked, he managed to control the ricochet and
put the ball into the net on the second attempt. However, he was judged to have
handled the ball, negating his cool finish. Paul Picciano PO ’16 also came close
with a good shot in the 70th minute that went wide of the far
post. On the other side of the field, Chapman failed to trouble the Hen’s goalkeeper Nigel Brady PO ’15 as he enjoyed a comfortable afternoon. The last chance fell to in-form
midfielder Matty Marvin PO ’17, who struck the post from an extremely acute angle
as the referee blew the final whistle.

Following their well-played performance, the Hens are looking to maintain their play as the season progresses. After three matches in a week, P-P resumes conference play Oct. 8 with a 4
p.m. home game against Cal Lutheran (3-5-3, 2-4-1 SCIAC).   

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