Gopakumar, Abdi Score to Tie Rivalry Match

Thirty minutes had passed in the first half when JK Gopakumar PO ’17 received the ball from Daven Crossland PZ ’20 in the eighteen-yard box. He didn’t stop to think; he just shot. As the ball sailed into the net, it looked like this game might go the opposite way than the last men’s soccer Sixth Street rivalry match (1-0, Stags).

But the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags (8-4-1, 6-4-1 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) took up the challenge. After scoring in the second half, they battled the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (7-5-1, 6-4-1 SCIAC) into double overtime. Despite the extra 20 minutes, neither team was able to find the edge above the other, and the match ended with a score of 1-1.

Of his goal, Gopakumar said, “I got the ball at midfield on the left side of the field and switched the ball out wide right to Daven. He settled the ball and beat his man and then played the ball back to me to the penalty spot. I took a touch to the right and then fired the ball above the keeper’s head and off the bottom of the crossbar.”

The Stags’ moment of glory came 5 minutes into the second half. Mehron Abdi CM ’17 lost no time in equalizing the score off of an assist by Michael Crowley CM ’17.

“We came out very aggressive in the second half and were creating lots of attacking opportunities,” Abdi said. “Early in the second half, the ball was bouncing a bit outside the 18-yard box and Michael got on it and played me a through ball over the top of the defender. Patrick Burke CM '20 was posting up a defender, which gave me enough room to volley the ball home past the keeper.”

For the rest of the second half, the Stags pounded the Sagehen goalposts. Five of the 14 shots taken came in this period.

“Some things that went well [in the match] was our mindset heading into the second half,” Abdi commented. “We didn't accept defeat, and fought back throughout the game to try and win. We also played with one another very well, and our positive chemistry on the field was apparent with how we controlled the flow of the game.”

Despite the Stag’s offensive display, stalwart goalkeeper Ben Mitchell PO ’18 kept the game in gridlock. With save after save, Mitchell denied the Stags the lead, totaling a game-high seven saves in the process.

Gopakumar reflected, “We were able to string together good spells of possession and control the game for periods of the game, but we need to do a better job of consistently controlling the tempo and possession of the game rather than for short spurts.”

The Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens' next play will be at home against no.1-seated University of Redlands (12-2, 10-1 SCIAC) on Oct. 17.

Looking forward, Gopakumar noted that “this team has grown and matured a lot this year, and we look forward to continuing that growth and finishing in the top four to make the SCIAC playoffs.”

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags' next match is against Occidental College (6-7-1, 5-6 SCIAC) on Oct. 15.

Abdi commented, “Our team has been together, and all of us know how important it is for us to remain together throughout these next few games. We're confident about our chances looking forward and will continue to put in everything we got.”

Both teams are in good position to fight for the top four positions in SCIAC, making these next few games of utmost importance.

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