Despite Being Eliminated From Playoffs, Stags Bounce Back With High-Scoring Victory

As the clock counts down the crucial
remaining minutes of the second half of the game, goalie and player come face-to-face in a crucial play. After receiving the ball, the player takes on the
goalie and manages to slide the ball past the hands of the goalie into the back
of the net. Releasing a surge of energy from the home team, hope remained for the game and the rest of the season. After 30 minutes of hard fighting, all
dreams were scattered as the opposing team managed another goal before the buzzer
went off.

After
playing under the bright lights of Pritzlaff Field on Saturday, Oct. 25, the
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s
soccer team (7-7-1, 6-7-1 SCIAC) faced a tough end to their playoff dreams.
Losing to Occidental College (12-4-1, 9-4-1 SCIAC) with a score of 3-1 took the
Stags out of the running for the SCIAC playoffs once and for all.

“Occidental’s game was a pretty
crucial game because we needed those points to be able to reach the tournament,
which at the end of the day is our goal,” assistant coach
Jonathan Lomeli said. “We prepared mentally and physically
for the match. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned; we
went down early with two sloppy goals. We came back to score another one, but it
was not enough to come back. We gave up a lot of defensive errors that gave
them those three easy goals.”

With
a slight chance of being able to make the playoffs before the game started, the
Stags rested in a do-or-die situation.

“The guys were ready, and they understood the circumstances they were facing, and I assumed that with
their backs against the wall, it would light a fire under them, and it did for a
short time, but we weren’t able to maintain
it,” interim head coach
Sam Ullman CM ’12 said.

Both players and coaches were upset by the season’s results, confirmed with the game against Occidental. 

“Personally, I broke
down, I was really upset. I felt disappointed in the season, like maybe it was
a waste of a season and the talent on the team,” Elijah Lichtenberg CM ’17 said.

Though this game was a crucial loss for the team that ended their post-season aspirations, they went out with a bang. In an exciting overtime win
against Whittier College (7-8-2, 5-8-2), the Stags showed their skills one
final time.

“It was a good game
for us in that we were able to come back and win the way we did,”
Ullman said. “Elijah
had a hat trick, and that was his first time playing midfield. So the first time
Elijah scored in his Stags career, he was able to get three in an important way
for us. He had an important goal with 40 seconds left that, without it, we would
have lost that game.”

In
addition, when the team scored the final goal in overtime to win the game off
of a corner kick by Mehron Abdi CM ’17, one of the team’s goals was achieved. 

“We were working on
a corner kick play, and it took us 16 regular season games to get it down,” Ullman said. 

The
Stags’ playoff dreams
ended in a tough way after an equally frustrating season.

“If there is one
thing we learned as a team, is that even when there are high expectations set
for you and you’re
considered one of the best teams in the league, that’s not all there is
to it,” Lichtenberg said. “You still have to work hard and put in the effort. Just knowing you’re
the best isn’t good enough.”

After
a mid-season coaching switch, the Stags were unable to come out on top of SCIAC, despite their hopes to do so. They had a strong season, leading up to even more
potential for the following years.

The
Stags face their final opponent of the season, the California Institute of Technology, (0-17-1, 0-14-1 SCIAC) Saturday, Nov. 1. 

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