Sagehens Cross Sixth Street to Beat Athenas 3-2

Peri Cuppens Pz ’19 spins away from CMS defenders Wren Osler (R) and Catherine Léon (L) to smash the ball into the net.

Defensive midfielder Katie Tao PO ’17 put just enough on her penalty kick to send it past the outstretched hand of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps goalie Kelly McConnell HM ’17. McConnell guessed the right direction for the ball but was almost hopeless to stop such a good shot. The goal in the 55th minute of Wednesday’s rivalry game gave the Sagehens a 3-2 advantage as well as their first win over the Athenas since 2014.

Tao’s tiebreaker came only minutes after Katelyn Faust CM ’17 brought CMS even with a deft, left-footed goal in the opening minutes of the second half. Faust’s fourth goal of the year was a great piece of individual work on the break in which she dribbled past two Pomona-Pitzer defenders before sending a low shot to the back of the net.

It seemed like what the Athenas needed was to assert themselves in the second half, but their momentum was lost when they were called for a handball in their own box, which lead to Tao’s penalty goal. They were able to create some good opportunities as the game wound down, but keeper Isa Berardo PZ ’20, defender Nadia Alaiyan PO ’17, and the rest of the P-P back line held strong.    

The first half set the tone for this spirited, well-attended rivalry match. At 13 minutes into the game, Sofia Barsher PZ ’18 put Pomona-Pitzer on the board first. CMS tried to clear a corner but failed to get past Barsher, who rocketed a volley through a maze of players and into the net. Sarah Tocher CM ’20 answered back for CMS eight minutes later. 

Tocher capitalized on a turnover by the Sagehens defense to score the first goal of her collegiate career. The teams then traded possession for the remainder of the first half, and it looked like they would enter halftime all square. But, the Sagehens proved otherwise; Peri Cuppens PZ ’19 collected the ball and rushed upfield before launching a left-footed diving shot from outside the box that dropped quickly enough to enter the net. The 43rd minute goal was perhaps the best display of individual talent in a game brimming with it.  

This win adds to P-P’s impressive record of 3-1 this season. They outscored their opponents 12-4 this season and also outshot them by a wide margin. The reigning SCIAC champions welcome undefeated Occidental College on Saturday, as continue their slate of league games. For CMS, Saturday’s home game against undefeated Cal Lutheran will provide a chance to get back on track and improve their 2-4 record. The Athenas will also continue their SCIAC play and just might circle Oct. 8 on the calendar, when they head across Sixth Street to avenge Wednesday’s bitter loss.      

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