Claremont, CA – Disorganization led the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags (7-2-0, 5-2-0 SCIAC) to lose just their second game of the season on Wednesday night. The #2 ranked Stags took on the #3 ranked University of La Verne Leopards (7-1-1, 5-1-1 SCIAC) in what was expected to be a heated SCIAC showdown. Chomping at the bit, the Stags were out of the gate ferociously as they kept the ball in the attacking half for the first 10 minutes, but a lapse in defensive focus led to a shot by the Leopards which found its way into the back of the net, just escaping the safe hands of keeper Daniel Cui CM '18. Now on the back foot, the Leopards started to take advantage of what looked to be a bewildered Stags team, putting forth more attacking chances as the home team tried to regroup.
Regrouping in the 20th minute, the Stags started putting on real offensive pressure. Ryan Karle CM '17 was the point man here, displaying beautiful dribbling prowess and speed, forcing corners for the Stags to whip the ball into the penalty area in hopes of scoring a goal. Between Karle and Elijah Lichtenberg CM '17, the Stags continued to keep the fear of an equalizer in the minds of the visiting Leopards.
After good attempts in the attacking half, a miscommunication in the CMS back line led to a change in possession too close to the goal. La Verne’s Ryan Adams attempted a shot on goal, saved by Cui's deft hands, but the deflection led to an open goal and the Leopards found the back of the net yet again. The teams went into the half with La Verne up 2-0.
Reminiscent of the beginning of the game, the Stags took the field with energy and focus. CMS strung passes together in quick succession to keep the ball between the attacking midfielders and forwards, putting the Leopards on their heels. Within the first fifteen minutes of the half, Lichtenberg and fellow midfielder Mehron Abdi CM '17 both had promising chances on goal, going just wide and high of the frame. Cui continued to make beautiful saves, keeping the Stags from incurring a near insurmountable deficit in the second half.
Alex Censullo CM '17 played his part in the multitude of corners won in the second half. Showing his aptitude for footwork, Censullo’s tekkers provided more than a few opportunities to score as the game wound down. La Verne, however, had started to slow down the pace, making it harder and harder for the Stags to put together a breakthrough scoring opportunity as the game progressed.
In the dying minutes of the game, the Leopards' frustration led to a careless yellow card just outside of the penalty area. Lichtenberg steps up to the task, but his shot is deflected and sent over the crossbar. With frustration setting in, the once-glorious passing of the Stags started to slow and the offense grew weary at the lack of results over the course of the game. Needless to say, the lack of Cole Mora’s CM '17 leadership on the pitch could have been a contributing factor to the night’s loss.
For the first time this season, the CMS Stags were shut out, with a final score of 0-2. Leaving them with a record of 7-2, going 5-2 in conference play thus far, the Stags will look to regroup this weekend as they take the road to face Chapman University’s Panthers on Saturday, October 1.