Kunz’s Blast Gives Athenas Overtime Victory

The
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s
soccer team has three crucial games remaining in the
season. After winning against University of La Verne (6-8-1, 4-6-1 SCIAC) Oct. 18 and losing to Occidental College (8-4-1, 6-4-1 SCIAC) Oct. 22, the
Athenas’ upcoming games are extremely
important.

“Our conference race
is a little bit tight; luckily, we control our own destiny, but we have tough
games coming up,” head coach Keri
Sanchez said.

La
Verne proved to be a strong opponent that the Athenas were able to overcome
with a 1-0 win in overtime.

“It was definitely
an equal game. La Verne always brings their hardest against us; they’re
a very physical, grind-out team,” Samantha Kunz CM’ 15 said. “We have a better skill level, but they can
match us in the will to win.” 

While
the Athenas were able to earn a win with a goal scored by senior Kunz, the game
presented the team’s strong skills as well as the possibility of improvement in the remainder of the season.

“We did a great job creating opportunities in that we outshot the other team. But in terms of
quality opportunities, getting good shots on goal and forcing the goalie to
make saves, [that] was what we were struggling on,” Sanchez said.

In
the team’s 2-3 loss against Occidental, the team’s position is even more precarious.
Isabel Lester CM ‘15 scored the first
goal of the game nine minutes in, with Darah Shields CM ‘16 tying up the
game in the 87th minute. Occidental scraped out one more goal in the 89th
minute to earn the win.

“We’ve
never played on the turf before so [we had] to acclimate to that,” Kunz said. “Oxy is a very
skilled and quick team, which is very different than what we just faced with La
Verne. It’s
a totally different game.”

Occidental always
provides a tough opponent and a difficult game.

“They have a very
dynamic front three or four players that can really hurt you, and so our hope
[was] to keep the ball on their defensive end and keep pressure on them that
way,” Sanchez said.

With
three critical games left, the Athenas are taking it one game at a time and staying motivated to win.

“The goal is to stay
on top and potentially host the SCIAC tournament and hopefully win that and get
an automatic entrance into NCAA,” Kunz said.

Heading
into the final games of the season and potentially the conference playoffs,
both coaches and players have goals for the team.

“I’d
like to see us on the defensive side be[ing] better at pressuring and maybe locking
teams in. We are a solid 11 and a really great defense, so we’re
going to try to not let up some of those things that get through too easily,” Sanchez said. 

Additionally, the Athenas are looking to defend their net in home games. 

“I hope that we can
prevent every team that plays on our home field from scoring on us,” Kunz said.

Although
the second round of conference games has proven to be more difficult as it is
deeper into the academic year, the Athenas maintain an element of surprise.

“Our fitness stands
out about us as a team. When all teams go into a game full-intensity, running
100 percent at the ball, our team can do that throughout the entire game. That can
throw people off, especially towards the end of the game,” Kunz said.

To
keep players motivated for the entirety of each game, Sanchez provides words of
wisdom to the team.

“It helps to get it
down to one or two things you’d like to
individually see them collectively work on,” Sanchez said. “Limit it as a game-to-game
perspective to help them be motivated and more focused.” 

With
three games left in the season, the team’s goals include finishing in front of
the goal and continuing to win games.

“Saturday was
definitely a highlight in that it was just fun to see us battle and figure out
a way to win that game and to watch Sam Kunz score that goal and just to be so
excited,” Sanchez said.

The
Athenas (11-5-1, 8-3-0 SCIAC) will take the field next against Redlands (8-5-2, 5-4-2) Saturday,
Oct. 25, at 11 a.m. 

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