Sixth Street Showdown: Shields’ Sublime Strike Seals Success, Stumps Sagehens

Forward Sydney Smith CM ’18 challenges forward Sofia Barsher PZ ’18 in CMS’s 1-0 victory over the Sagehens on Wednesday, Oct. 14. • Morgan Albrecht

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team (8-5, 6-3 SCIAC) remains atop the SCIAC standings, albeit by only one point, after seeing a six-game winning streak ended in a midweek rivalry clash with the stifling-hot Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team (8-4-3, 5-2-2 SCIAC). P-P entered last weekend on a hot streak ahead of a third-straight home game against Whittier College (8-4, 5-4 SCIAC). It was the Sagehens who drew first blood through one of their most in-form players, forward Alyssa Kim PZ ’17.

Before the game, Kim attributed her excellent scoring streak to teamwork.

“Our team has been creating a lot of offensive opportunities, and I’ve just been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time,” Kim said.

With the sweltering conditions forcing a slower pace to the game, the score remained 1-0 at halftime after a tame period of back-and-forth, midfield-congested soccer. That theme continued for the first half-hour of the second half before the game suddenly came back to life. P-P threatened to break the game wide open in the 78th minute as midfielder Katie Tao PO ’17, a long-shot and free-kick specialist this season, lined up an attempt from around 25 yards out, curling a beauty into the top right corner past the Whittier keeper.

Ninety seconds and the Sagehens looked like they had put the game to bed, when Kim provided an assist for forward Peri Cuppens PZ ’19 to slot home for the 3-0 advantage. Kim credited the resilience shown by the team to the Sagehens’ leaders and captains, and focused on the team’s drive to self-improvement.

“With our team’s talent and depth, if we can focus on getting our game better everyday, I am confident that we can, and will, bring home more Ws,” Kim said.

However, on the other side of Sixth Street, the Athenas have been matching every move of the Sagehens, keeping within striking distance of the SCIAC lead. CMS has not seen defeat since Sept. 23 and was coming off a two-game win streak of its own going into its two matches last weekend.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, CMS shut out the University of Redlands (6-3-2, 5-3-1 SCIAC), with midfielder Makella Brems CM ’17 and forward Natalie Ricci CM ’18 scoring the two Athena goals. On Sunday, the Athenas added to their win streak, earning a huge comeback victory over the University of California, Santa Cruz. After falling behind 2-0 in the first 15 minutes of the match, the Athenas fought their way back as the defense shut down the UCSC offense for the remainder of the game and the Athena offense scored three unanswered goals to get a 3-2 victory.

Sydney Talmi CM ’19 passes the ball across the field. • Morgan Albrecht

The setting for the second showing of the Sixth Street rivalry match on Wednesday, Oct. 14, could not have come at a better time for either team. The Sagehens had not lost since their first faceoff against CMS on Sept. 19, which ended in a 1-0 win for the Athenas. On the other hand, the Athenas had only given up four goals in their last six games, setting the stage for another epic Sixth Street encounter—which definitely did not disappoint.

The Sagehens were the hungrier, more dynamic team from the start, dictating the tempo of play, and stifling CMS forays forward while successfully working the ball ahead. CMS goalkeeper Kelly McConnell HM ’17 was forced into five first-half saves, while P-P keeper Corey Goelz PO ’17 did not have to make any, an indication of the advantage enjoyed by the home team. With such positives shown in the first period, Goelz spoke after the game about the Sagehens’ plan going into the second half.

“At halftime, we just talked about continuing to put pressure on them and pushing to score,” Goelz said.

Goelz’s first save came in the 53rd minute of the game, just after forward Danika Bethune PO ’17 saw her attempt come off the post. McConnell’s replacement in the CMS net, keeper Morgan McCoy CM ’18, was once again much more involved than the P-P goalie, however, making four saves in the course of eight minutes in the middle of the second half to keep the scores deadlocked.

The CMS keepers’ efforts were rewarded in the 87th minute, when midfielder Laynee Laubee CM ’17 played a bouncing ball toward forward Darrah Shields CM ’16, who held off a couple of defenders before chipping perfectly over Goelz for the game’s only goal. Given it was the Athenas’ second shot on target in the entire match, the Sagehens had a right to feel a little hard done by after the final whistle. Goelz voiced some of the team’s disappointment while looking at some of the positives, too.

“We created a number of good scoring chances throughout the game and played good team defense as well,” Goelz said. “I’m proud of the heart that we showed.  Although it’s always frustrating to give up a late goal, credit to their player for capitalizing on a through ball and hitting a great shot.”

P-P remains atop the SCIAC with 18 points, but is now just one point ahead of CMS. With the win, CMS looks to carry its momentum into the remainder of the SCIAC season and into its next match at the University of La Verne (5-6-2, 3-5-1 SCIAC) on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Sagehens will look to rebound, starting with a trip to the University of Redlands this Saturday. With plenty still to play for the Sagehens, Goelz emphasized a message of positivity.

“I am excited to see our team’s response to this adversity on Saturday against Redlands,” Goelz said. “Anything can happen in SCIAC and it’ll be fun to see the rest of the season unfold, especially knowing that we still control our own destiny.”

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