Pritzlaff field was the place to be Saturday evening as Pomona-Pitzer (4-4-2, 3-2-2 SCIAC) took home a 1-0 victory against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2-7-1, 2-5-1 SCIAC) in a thrilling men’s soccer match.
“Last time we won here I think was 2013, so any time you can win at Pritzlaff is a very good day,” P-P coach Bill Swartz commented.
With the blow of the whistle and the roar of the crowd, the first half was underway. CMS began the game very aggressively, taking several shots to ensure that P-P goalkeeper Ben Mitchell PZ ‘18 stayed on his toes.
For the first ten minutes, the Stags seemed fully capable of creating chances to score, and when they lost possession, preventing the Sagehens from capitalizing off a counterattack.
But it all changed at 15:17 when Aiden Ferrer PO ’19 struck the ball from the right of the box into the skull of a CMS defender, deflecting it into the back left corner of the net. CMS keeper Daniel Cui CM ’18 was thrown off by the deflection, and wound up diving in the wrong direction.
Though there were a few more scoring opportunities in the middle of the half, the rest of the time consisted of CMS winning possession, advancing to the attacking third, and being thwarted by P-P defense and vice versa.
However, with just under a minute to spare, Cui was shown a red card for stepping out of the box and illegally using his hands to swat away the ball during a P-P breakaway.
Substitution goalkeeper Connor Gaskin CM ’20 and the rest of the CMS squad had their work cut out for them for the remaining 45 minutes, but they continued to fight, visibly increasing their effort.
“I think the way they played in the second half is how they have to play all the time,” CMS coach Matt Edwards said. “To play with that kind of intensity, that kind of energy, that kind of enthusiasm, and that kind of passion is what represents Stags soccer.”
P-P predictably maintained much of the possession at the onset of the second half as CMS adjusted to the circumstances. P-P came close to increasing the gap, but CMS rose to the occasion and kept the clean sheet.
“I just did my job and worked with my back line,” Gaskin acknowledged.
A notable CMS chance at goal occurred midway through the half as a lobbed ball was sent from the left side of the field over the keeper, only just grazing past the right side of the frame.
P-P had their own near-miss opportunity when the ball was smashed into the bottom right post at just the right angle for it to bounce into Gaskin’s gloves.
The final considerable chance for CMS to tie it up came near the end of the game when a cross resulted in multiple attempts at goal, each being met with the foot, head, or some other body part of P-P defenders for it to eventually be cleared out of danger.
To send off the very physical match, a second red card for CMS was shown at 88:33 to Patrick Burke CMC ’20 after he accumulated his second yellow card of the game for getting just a bit too rough with a P-P player.
“Physicality of especially this game is a huge factor and its easy for it to get out of hand,” Blaise Werner PZ ’21 noted. “But I think us just trying to sit back and play our game and not let all the fans or the refs or how many players either team had get to us made the difference.”
As the timekeeper counted down the few seconds left in the game, the Sagehens rushed to their bench to celebrate the big win.
The Stags fell to their knees, distraught over the loss, but more importantly, thirsty for revenge. They will have their chance next Saturday, Oct. 7, as they once again take on their P-P rivals, this time on the south side of Sixth Street.