Sagehens Continue to Dominate on the Pitch, Earn Top 25 Ranking

As the Pomona-Pitzer men’s soccer team continues to tear through league competition this season, it is not only gaining recognition from its SCIAC opponents but has also burst into the national scope. The Sagehens (9-2-1, 7-1-1 SCIAC), who now possess the No. 23 national ranking, proved that they deserve it in a 3-1 rout with California Lutheran University (3-7-2, 2-6-1 SCIAC) Oct. 8.

Both teams started the game by fiercely attacking the opposing team’s goal. The explosive attack of the Sagehens showed early as the only thing keeping them from moving ahead was Cal Lutheran’s goalkeeper Jack Duncan, who had two of his nine saves in the first eight minutes. However, the Sagehen attack did not let down. In the 20th minute, P-P finally found a hole in the Cal Lutheran defense as midfielder Matty Marvin PO ’17 took a pass from fellow midfielder Jake Merkle PO ’18 and nailed a shot into the low corner of the net from 12 yards out to give the Sagehens a 1-0 lead.

The Sagehens wanted to come out of the gates strong to begin the second part of their league schedule.

“Against Cal Lu, we wanted to start the second round of play well to set a tone for the rest of the season,” midfielder Felipe Galvis PO ’17 said.

With the lead in hand, the offensive onslaught of the Sagehens did not let up. Just five minutes after Marvin’s goal, P-P found itself with another opportunity to score. In the center of the field, Galvis headed a loose ball forward that eventually found forward Nathan Shekita PO ’15, who was able to evade Duncan and put the ball into the net. 

With the connection between Galvis and Shekita, the Sagehens took a commanding 2-0 lead.

“In that play their last defender had the ball and was looking to clear it,” Galvis said. “The ball was bouncing through which kind of made it a 50/50, so I just wanted to make sure not to foul so we could have a chance, and luckily I got a touch to the ball first, and [Shekita] ran on to it and did the rest.”

Even with the two-goal advantage, the Hens did not take their foot off the gas. In the next two minutes after Shekita’s goal, P-P took three more shots, with Duncan coming up big for the Kingsmen to keep his team in the game. The remaining 15
minutes of the half came to a quiet end as neither team was able to score.

In the 53rd
minute, Shekita found himself in another opportunity to score as P-P was
awarded a penalty kick following a Cal Lutheran foul. Once again Duncan made the save
for the Kingsmen, but was unable to keep out the second attempt from forward Peter
Rentzepis PO ’18. With great field awareness, Rentzepis was able to
gather the rebound off the saved penalty kick and put the ball in the goal to
increase the Sagehen lead to 3-0.

This time, the
Kingsmen were quick to respond. Just two minutes later, Bryan Hulse was able to
play a long ball forward that found his teammate Zack Larson in stride. Larsen kicked a strong shot over the head of goalkeeper Nigel Brady PO ’15, who had lost
his line. In the final half hour of the match, P-P stopped the few
more dangerous opportunities for the Kingsmen as the game ended 3-1.

Marvin proved
to play a crucial role for P-P as his goal helped initiate the offensive spark
of the Sagehens. Brady racked up four saves in the match, continuing his
impressive season thus far.

Even after gaining national attention by breaking through to the top 25, with the possibility of an even better ranking after their win over Cal Lutheran, the Sagehens still have the same mindset and are more concerned with what happens on the field, not off of it.

“Our mindset has not changed at all,” Galvis said. “Rankings are flattering but don’t really mean anything. What matters is what we do on the field.”

The Sagehens are back on the pitch against the University of La Verne (8-4-1, 5-4) Oct. 11 and Occidental College (8-4, 5-4) Oct. 15 before their big rematch with rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (5-4-1, 5-4-1), who tied the Hens 1-1 in their first league match.

To remain on top of the SCIAC standings, P-P looks to keep playing their own way.

“In our upcoming games we just have to make sure to keep playing our style,” Galvis said. “We believe that no team can beat us when we are playing our style, and if we stay patient and confident during the games, we will have a good chance to keep winning.”

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