The Athenas were locked in a 0-0 draw with under two minutes to go. In the final minute, forward Darrah Shields CM ’16 sent a corner kick arcing down toward the goal that midfielder Kelsey Heflin CM ’16 was able to redirect to the front of the net. Midfielder Remi Edwards CM ’19 seized the opportunity and fired the ball into the back of the net to give the Athenas the 1-0 victory over University of La Verne (6-7-2, 4-6-1 SCIAC).
Looking to extend their six-game winning streak, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team (9-5-3, 6-3-2) was hungry this past Saturday, Oct. 17 for another chance to prove their skills and to maintain their position in first place in SCIAC against the California Lutheran University Regals (6-7-2, 5-4-2) on Wednesday, Oct. 21. However, in a game that tested the worth of both teams, Cal Lu came out on top.
About eight minutes into the game, the Regals capitalized on the Athenas while they were still trying to get their head in the game. After teeing up for an early free kick, the Regals managed to angle the ball into the high corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead, a score that would last until the end of the game.
Despite the loss, forward Natalie Ricci CM ‘18 managed to stay positive.
“We beat Cal Lu the first time we played them and I think losing to them, especially at home, gives us motivation and we’ll come out with more energy next time,” she said. “We’ll be able to identify what we did wrong and what we could have done better. So I think it’s something we can sulk about for maybe 12 hours and then learn from it and come out strong next time.”
Ricci admits that the team struggled at the beginning of the season to find their rhythm, especially after losing some key players in last year’s senior class, but that the rest of the team has stepped up and the effort is starting to pay off.
“At the beginning of the season our team had a little bit of trouble finding that chemistry, but the juniors this year have definitely stepped up their game and our defense, I would say, is the strongest part of our team right now,” Ricci said. “They’re so hard to get through, and I think they’re really the core of the team.”
Replacing the seniors is an equally (if not more) talented first-year class, with such additions as Edwards and defender Megan Lo CM ‘19, who bring an incredible energy to the team, according to Ricci.
“The best thing about the freshmen is you don’t feel nervous that they’re not going to know what to do when they go in; you feel comfortable and safe and you trust them, which I think is crucial,” Ricci remarked.
One way the team helps welcome the first-years is by assigning each member a pump-up buddy to motivate before games and provide support for.
“Typically you write them an inspirational letter before a game and point out what they did well in the last game, and then we’ll get them little treats so I always get mine candy, but some girls will get them socks or CMS apparel. It’s really fun. It really helps to make the freshman feel at home, make them feel incorporated with the team and make them feel like they’re part of something,” Ricci said.
Such team chemistry both on and off the field has definitely had an impact on the team, and the results are evident in their superior ranking. With only three games left in the regular season, the girls already have their eyes set on the playoffs.
“We’ve adapted so well,” Ricci said. “We’ve learned how each other play and we’ve learned how to work well with one another, so I see this season lasting really long for us, and I’m excited to see where it goes.”
The Athenas next play against Occidental College (6-6-2, 5-4-2 SCIAC) on Saturday, Oct. 24 at home.