Hens Play to Two Draws With Gritty Performances

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team was forced to dig deep this past week, putting in a
couple of scrappy performances to grab road draws at SCIAC rivals University of La Verne and University of Redlands. Coupled with the Sagehens’ (7-4-3, 5-1-3 SCIAC) rivalry loss last
week against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and an out-of-conference defeat to University of California, Santa Cruz Oct. 10,
P-P’s winless streak now stands at four as the team dropped into third place
in the SCIAC standings. Given the congested schedule, however, the team will no
doubt be fairly satisfied with its ability to grind out results amidst a
physically and mentally taxing stretch of the season.

The Sagehens’ week began with the Oct. 10 visit to UCSC in a non-league encounter. Goalkeeper Annie Wedel PO ’16 had a busy start, making three saves in the first 22 minutes
to keep the hosts in the game. The breakthrough eventually came in the 33rd
minute as Sara Sadler headed home a goal from a corner kick for UCSC. P-P was more
competitive in the second half, but failed to create many clear opportunities,
and were made to pay in the 71st as Sadler once again buried a
corner into the back of the net. There was a consolation goal for the Sagehens,
also from a corner kick, as Taylor Fortson PO ’16 headed in the cross from Sara
Ach PZ ’15, but it was too little, too late for the Hens, who lost their second game in
three days. Fixture congestion was a likely contributor to an
uncharacteristically flat performance. 

“This past week was
demanding, both physically and mentally,” captain Nicole Quilliam PO ’15 said. “I would say those who got minutes are
much more fit and maybe a bit worn down as a result.”

A quick turnaround was required, as
the Sagehens took the field the next day against the Leopards of La Verne. P-P’s
weariness showed in the first half as they failed to convert possession into
threatening play, although the visitors were unable to capitalize in a period
of very few genuine attempts at goal. Halftime seemed to invigorate the home
team, however, and P-P came out in the second half on the front foot. Nadia
Alaiyan PO ’17 forced a save from La Verne keeper Delanie Pacheco and Nicola
Ying Fry PZ ’16 hit the post before the Sagehens finally made the breakthrough
in the 63rd minute. A lofted free kick that bounced off the head of Mary Stafford PZ ’16 allowed Quilliam the opportunity to notch her team-best fifth goal of the season. The
influential senior midfielder also leads the side in assists, but Quilliam was quick to credit
her teammates for her good form after the match.

“[Our team] cannot be successful unless everyone is
involved in the play and contributing,” Quilliam said. “Being creative in front of the goal is a
direct result of the team’s ability to connect and be on the same wavelength.”

Both
Katie Tao PO ’17 and Jamie Kerester PO ’17 had chances to double the lead, but
were repelled by Pacheco. The La Verne keeper’s resistance turned out to be
crucial, as a 79th minute pass from Jamie Weaver found Maribel Duran
in space, while the latter kept her cool to slot the equalizer. Pacheco
stayed sharp to keep out a late attempt from Fortson, and the game headed to overtime. With both teams obviously tired, however, the extra time yielded few
opportunities, as the game petered out into a 1-1 draw.

Despite
the slightly frustrating result, the Sagehens remained upbeat ahead of
Wednesday’s visit to Redlands.

“The
previous game we played against Redlands was arguably our best game all season,” Quilliam said. “We started off strong and dictated the tempo through possession and hard
work… and we hope to do the same [again].” 

This time, however, it was Redlands who
started on top, as Wedel was forced into two early saves. P-P did have the best
chance of the first half as Tao hit the crossbar in the 41st minute,
but the Bulldogs put forth a stronger effort in the second half. Wedel made
four saves in the half, none more crucial than the last one, as she dove at
full stretch to keep out a Kate Frame header with just four seconds of regular
time to play. The first half of overtime was a tame affair with both teams playing
cautiously, but with just seven seconds left in the second overtime half, Wedel was once
again the heroine, smothering a Tanya Haggen breakaway to preserve the 0-0
score line and claim a point for the Sagehens. 

The result dropped P-P to third
in the SCIAC, three points behind first-place CMS, but the team does remain
well-placed to make the four-team post-season tournament ahead of the Saturday, Oct. 18 visit of Occidental College.

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