Fitting for a team named after the Greek goddess of wisdom and war, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team has engaged in several intense defensive battles on the field this year. The Athenas’ robust backline has been virtually impenetrable this year, rarely allowing opposing attacks to advance toward the goal.
That trend certainly continued in the team’s two skirmishes last week against California Lutheran University (3-5-1, 2-2-1 SCIAC), against whom the Athenas tied 1-1, and Occidental College (2-5-1, 1-3-1), which ended in a 0-0 draw.
In the first half of the game against Cal Lutheran, the Regals consistently assaulted the goal, outshooting the Athenas 14-7, but the CMS defense held firm and refused to concede a goal, with goalkeeper Kelly McConnell HM ’17 repelling any shots sent her way.
“Cal Lu’s strength was their speed up top, so we definitely had to work on containing their speed and directing the play away from their players that can carry the ball,” midfielder Ellen Berkley CM ’18 said.
The Regals were able to draw first blood in the second half to capture the 1-0 lead, but the Athenas used this to spark an offensive drive of their own. Less than two minutes after the Cal Lutheran strike, Berkley noticed the ball deflect off of a Regal defender and roll toward her, and she saw an opportunity to strike.
“I remember not thinking very much and just hitting it,” Berkley explained. “It was pretty far out, I think 20 yards, so I just kind of went for it and it flew over the keeper’s head. It was pretty exciting.”
Berkley’s timely goal delivered the Athenas into a tie that remained unbroken throughout the rest of the game.
“It was really good of [Berkley] to look up and know where the goalie was,” forward Laynee Laube CM ’17 said. “She had a split second to take the shot and didn’t even take a touch before. She had really good vision and it went right in.”
Even though the Regals outshot the Athenas, both teams totaled an equal amount of shots on goal with nine each, proving that CMS was able to create great scoring opportunities and send shots that flew true toward their target.
“We do create opportunities,” Laube said. “We’ve worked a lot on getting numbers in the boxes so more people can have the ability to get something on the ball and get it into the back of the net.”
Against Occidental, both teams dug into the trenches, successfully repelling any opposing advances en route to a scoreless draw.
“Our work ethic has been really strong, we always come out strong and we’re really good at pressing other teams and keeping them on their half,” Berkley said. “Last week our problem was our possession was there, but we haven’t been finishing and that’s been our ongoing struggle. We would create a lot of chances or we’d be dominating the game and then we wouldn’t put the ball in the back of the net, so we’re still trying to find people who can score.”
Both keepers McConnell and Morgan McCoy CM ’18 joined forces to keep a clean sheet for the Athenas and continue the CMS defense’s strong form.
The next time the Athenas take the field will be in a clash against Chapman University (4-5, 1-4) at home at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.