Bishop’s Sensational Goal Helps CMS Upset P-P

For the Stags, losing simply wasn’t an option. In a must-win
game against first-place Pomona-Pitzer, the
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team seemed to feel the
importance of the moment. Playing in
front of a large crowd, the Stags (7-6-1, 6-6-1 SCIAC) carried a sense of urgency that started during warm-ups and maintained this mentality to edge the Sagehens (10-4-2, 8-3-2 SCIAC) for a 2-0 victory.

“If we
wanted to make it to the postseason and have it be in our control, we had to
win that game,” midfielder Jake Bishop CM ’15 said. “So it’s not a position you’d like to be in, but out of necessity, we needed to win, and having that need mentality versus Pomona-Pitzer, who’s in
first, that gave us the upper hand.”

That
intensity showed as CMS came out of the gate strong and was able to get on the
board early. It was the fifth minute of
the game, and the two teams were setting up to receive a free kick near P-P’s
goal. After the cross came in, midfielder Alex
Censullo CM ’17 headed it back into a mix of players in front of the goal.

Forward Taylor Lemmon CM ‘16 was connected and flicked the ball toward the goal, but
with all the congestion it bounced around, seeming to have nowhere to go. Suddenly, the ball landed in front of midfielder Mehron Abdi CM ’17 with space, and he capitalized on the opportunity to smack the
ball into the back of the net.

“The first goal was good because it put them
on their heels and helped us remain calm throughout the game,” Abdi said.
“Going into a game where you need to win in order to be a playoff contender, you
can be a little anxious and tense, but scoring first helped us ease our nerves
and let the game play out.”

Both Abdi
and Bishop stressed the importance of counterattacking to head coach Sam
Ulman’s scheme.

“We focused on counterattacks a lot because
P-P likes to play it around, and we can just go straight at them,” Abdi said. “We also have a
lot of fast players, so I think that helped us out.” 

The Stags
put this strategy to good use when Bishop was able to score a Sportscenter Top
10-caliber goal in the 77th minute. 

The play
began after CMS won the ball, with the team running to start the
counterattack and catch the defense off-balance. Bishop got the ball about 30 yards out from
the goal and, realizing that he had space to shoot, blasted a nearly un-savable
shot over the head of goalkeeper Nigel Brady PO ’15 into the top right corner of the net.

“That was
probably the best goal we’ve had all year,” Abdi said. “Right when it left his
foot, I knew it was going to go in.”

Bishop’s goal,
his second of the season, helped seal the win for the Stags and keep their
playoff hopes alive.

“The balls
we use are always pumped up and very light, so if you get a hold of one of them
and hit it square on, that ball will just knuckle and move all over the place, and the goalie can’t decide what to do with it,” Bishop said. “Very rarely
are there times in the game when you have that much time to set yourself up and
square yourself to the goal and really run through a shot. Because we counterattacked them, and they
didn’t have anybody to put pressure on me, it was just everything coming
together perfectly.” 

Even though
CMS was able to pull out the victory, P-P still maintained its grip on
first place in SCIAC.

“Any game
against CMS is bound to be competitive, but it was still a fun atmosphere with all
the fans and everything, and at the same time it’s just another league game,
and we’re still in first place, so we can’t get down, and we just have to stay
positive,” Paul Picciano PO ’16 said.

Throughout
the game, P-P had several chances to score but was unable to capitalize. Picciano had perhaps the team’s best shot at
netting a goal when he was able to get his head on a corner kick and flick it
toward the goal, but it hit a defender’s leg and deflected harmlessly away. The
team also had two goals called off due to being offside and a foul.

With only
three games left, P-P is looking to cruise and maintain the team’s position atop SCIAC.

“Our game
plan is we try to play the best soccer we can, move the ball around and try to
stay away from the long-ball approach,” Picciano said. “We lean more toward possession-type play and keeping the ball moving and
trying to break down their defense. We also
try to capitalize on corners and free kicks.” 

After losing to University of Redlands 4-3 Monday, CMS must win all three of its remaining
games and hope that Redlands, Occidental College or University of La Verne loses as well to
clinch a playoff spot.

The next
games for both CMS and P-P are Saturday, Oct. 25, at home when P-P plays California Institute of Technology (0-15-1, 0-12-1 SCIAC) at 11 a.m. and CMS faces off against Occidental (11-4-1,
8-4-1 SCIAC) at 7 p.m. 

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