P-P, CMS Both Fall in SCIAC Semifinal Matches

The
Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team’s season came to a difficult end on Wednesday
night as it lost 2-1 on the road to California Lutheran University in the SCIAC Tournament semifinals. P-P (10-5-4, 8-2-4 SCIAC) lost at the same stage in last year’s
postseason, but the Sagehens entered the tournament with confidence after a
fine performance in last weekend’s regular season finale against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The
visiting Athenas, who entered Saturday atop the SCIAC standings, had won the
season’s first 5C rivalry match fairly convincingly, 3-0. Thus, there was
plenty of pride at stake for P-P, who had already secured a place in the
postseason with a 4-1 against Whittier College on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

The
undoubted star of the Whitter game was senior captain Amanda Coba PO ’15, who notched
a hat trick and showed little sign of slowing down in the early stages of
Saturday’s encounter. A third-minute P-P corner kick was only half-cleared by
the CMS defense, and Coba pounced on the loose ball to rifle a shot home. Taking
the lead so quickly seemed to give the Sagehens plenty of attacking confidence,
and the margin was doubled soon after. After receiving a pass inside the
CMS 18-yard box from Sofia Barsher PZ ’18, Natasha Thornton-Clark PO ’18
attempted a return ball. Her cross was instead deflected and ended up
trickling into the goal past wrong-footed goalkeeper Molly Freed SC ’15.

“After the last game against [CMS] we wanted to get revenge, and it was our Senior Day, so we wanted to come out hard, which we did,” forward Abby Gold PO ’18 remarked about P-P’s quick-fire start.

Understandably,
the breakneck pace proved hard to maintain, and the game began to slow down in
the rest of the first half. Both Freed and P-P goalie Annie Wedel PO ’16 were
only called into action sparingly, although both were sharp enough to keep the
score at 2-0 going into halftime. Needing a win to ensure a regular season SCIAC
title, CMS attempted to start the second half with more gusto, drawing a good
early save from Wedel, but even that spurt died down as the half wore on.
Staying largely in control of the proceedings, the Sagehens eased their way through
the final half hour, stifling any attempts of a CMS comeback. With the win, P-P
secured third place in the regular season standings, while CMS remained in first.

Next up for
the Sagehens came the do-or-die postseason playoff on the road at Cal Lutheran, but P-P lost on the final day of the regular season to ruin their hopes of leapfrogging
CMS atop the SCIAC standings. P-P drew both conference games against the Regals this season, and the visitors started the game
confident in their ability to compete. 

“I think we definitely have a really
good chance,” said Gold before the game. “If we just play like how we have been
playing, with heart and lots of intensity, we can come away with the win.”

P-P started
in an assured fashion, matching the hosts in general play, although both
sides struggled to find offensive fluency. Wedel was the busier of the two
goalkeepers in the first half, however, and had to make a couple sharp saves in
the dying minutes before halftime to keep the score 0-0. Wedel’s goal was again
the one under greater duress as the second half started. Cal Lutheran’s Katelyn
Kimball hit the crossbar with a fierce shot in the 51st minute.
Kimball forced another good save from Wedel in the 66th minute, but
it was the Sagehens who would take the lead in the 74th. 

Danika
Bethune PO ’17 found herself with enough time and space outside the box to hit
an ambitious effort into the top right corner. P-P’s elation, however, turned
to frustration just 33 seconds later as the hosts found a rapid equalizer.
Kimball muscled herself into prime position to convert a cross from Kali
Youngdahl barely half a minute after Bethune’s opener to once again level
affairs. Barsher had a good shot parried away by the Regals’ keeper Kristin
Bailey in the 80th, but it was the Regals who found the winner two
minutes later. 

After a surging attacking run, Youngdahl found a clever pass to
Bianca Deardorff, who rounded Wedel in a one-on-one to slot home for a 2-1
lead. P-P struggled to haul themselves back into the game, and a strong Regals’
defensive effort held the Sagehens without a meaningful goal as the clock wound
out. Cal Lutheran went on to book a date with the University of Redlands in the SCIAC Tournament final after Redlands upset the Athenas in the other semifinal match. 

As the whistle blew in their final game, the Sagehens were left to ponder an all-in-all encouraging season that looks ahead to a bright future for the program. Seniors Coba, Sara Ach PZ ’15,
Nicole Quilliam PO ’15 and Rachel Keyser PO ’15, whose collegiate careers came to
an end, became the first PPWS players ever to go to the playoffs in four
consecutive years.

And with the departure of accomplished seniors, this year’s new players are left with an inspiring example to follow and prosperous starting point for their time on the field. 

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more…apart from the soccer aspect everyone on the team is so welcoming,” Gold commented. “I’m really glad that this was my jumping off point for college.”

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