The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s soccer team (16-5-1, 11-2-1 SCIAC) closed out the SCIAC tournament with a brilliant performance. The second-seeded Athenas defeated the fourth-seeded Chapman University Panthers (9-9-2, 6-7-2 SCIAC), 4-0 to clinch the SCIAC tournament banner and advance to the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Athenas jumped on Chapman from the start, netting their first goal less than five minutes after kick-off.
“The fact that we were able to score early in the game, I think, just settled everybody down a little bit, because Chapman had played an excellent game on Wednesday,” head coach Keri Sanchez said. The first goal came in the fifth minute as Wren Osler SC '18 met Laynee Laube CM ‘17’s corner kick with a powerful header that the Panther goalkeeper could not keep out.
The first goal rattled Chapman, but they continued to settle into the match and created a few decent goal-scoring chances. However, the lead was quickly doubled in the 21st minute when Laube scored her 10th goal of the season.
“I was on the outside and I saw the opportunity to take the defenders on,” Laube recalled. “It ended up working out, I was at the top of the box. I decided to take a shot and it ended up going in.”
CMS maintained this lead throughout the first half and led 2-0 at the break. But, they didn’t relax. Sanchez points out that a 2-0 lead can be one of the most dangerous scores in soccer; if the winning team lets down their guard, the losing team can easily come back. At halftime, she told her team that they “had to understand the criticalness of being up by two goals. The fight for that third goal becomes crucial because it can change momentum. It can either help us maintain that momentum that we had going into halftime or create some momentum for the other team, and so it was conscious on our part to make sure that we came out continuing to press.”
The strategy worked, as the Athenas kept up their pace from the first half, scoring approximately 15 minutes after the second half started. The goal came again from Laube, who “saw that Sarah [Malott CM'19], one of our midfielders, was going to play a long ball. So, when she released it, it ended up splitting both the centre backs with her ball and I was able to run in between them and get in behind.” Laube finished off the swift attack by slotting the ball past the goalkeeper.
Ten minutes later, Amy Johnson CM '17 cemented the 4-0 lead by scoring off a deflected free kick, her first goal in a CMS uniform.
Both Sanchez and Laube pointed to the team’s togetherness and sacrifice as the key strengths that made this season so successful. “As a group, we’re all willing to work for each, and that’s really important,” Laube said.
“The connectedness is probably one of our greatest strengths,” Sanchez adds. “There’s not one shining star, necessarily. They’re all fighting and working really hard together, and on any given day, it’s somebody stepping up to help us win that game”
Four Athenas players were named to All-SCIAC teams: Laube, Katelyn Faust CM '17, and Jacey Coniff HM '18 to the First Team, as well as Johnson to the Second Team.
The team will kick off their NCAA Division III tournament campaign against Pacific Lutheran University (16-0-4, 13-0-3 Conf.) on Saturday, Nov. 12, on the Pomona-Pitzer field at 1:30 p.m.