Saturday, Oct. 22 was an important day for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team (12-5-1, 9-2-1 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). The Athenas hosted the University of Redlands (3-11-1, 2-9-1 SCIAC) on their Senior Day; incidentally, they were also playing to clinch home field advantage in the SCIAC tournament semifinals. The team was able to secure an advantage with goals from Remi Edwards CM ‘19 and Megan Lo CM ‘19 in the first half, which was enough to hold on for the eventual 2-1 victory.
Head coach Keri Sanchez stressed the importance of gaining the home-field advantage, that CMS’ league “is very tough and any given team can beat you on any given day, so anything you can do to set yourself up for success is going to be good. I think home field advantage is the first step with that. We tend to do well on our home field, so I know our players are excited to be able to get to play at home,” Sanchez said.
The game started with the Athenas firmly in control of the ball yet unsuccessful in breaking through Redlands’ defense. Late in the half, Sanchez made a few substitutions that completely changed the dynamic of the game.
“We had subs in the first half that came on and were game changers. They came on and actually scored two goals in that last fifteen minutes [of the first half],” Sanchez said. The first goal came when, shortly after entering the game, Gabrielle Clouse CM ‘20 played a nice ball to Edwards near the goal. Redlands goalkeeper Hannah Menk got her fingertips to the ball but was unable to keep it out.
The second goal came shortly thereafter, with Edwards this time providing the assist to Lo, whose blistering strike from outside the box left the goalkeeper with no chance. The goals came after a period of frustration, in which the Athenas dominated possession but could not find the back of the net, making the points even more crucial.
“Coming off of all that possession that we had in the first half, you want to make sure that it results in goals, not just ‘that was great, we had a lot of possession, but it’s still 0-0’,” Sanchez said, adding that “it was a critical key to the game that we could get some goals before halftime.”
CMS continued to control possession in the second half and even crafted more good scoring opportunities, which they were unable to capitalize on. Unable to control the ball, Redlands then decided to employ a more direct and aggressive tactic, playing passes over the top of the Athenas’ defense in hopes of getting a player in behind. They finally found some space and scored with a nice strike by Lauren Bay in the 82nd minute.
The team re-inserted their seniors into the game for the final few minutes, also re-establishing their possession. Redlands struggled to create another clear-cut chance and CMS held on for the win. In all, the Athenas outshot their opponents by a margin of 19-7, and despite the late goal, never seemed in danger of losing the match.
The team goes on the host Whittier College (5-6-5, 3-5-4 SCIAC) on Oct. 26 before closing out their season away at Chapman University (8-7-1, 5-6-1 SCIAC). Having secured the home-field advantage, they will now move on to perfecting their game in time for the playoffs.