As the men’s soccer season comes to a close, it was especially unfortunate to see Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (3-11-1 SCIAC) suffer a 1-0 loss to Whittier (4-9-0 SCIAC) last Saturday evening on their senior night. Despite the result, the Stags played with athleticism and finesse that could have very well resulted in a win.
“[Our] final pass and final product is what kept the ball out of [Whittier’s] net, which is the story of our season, really,” defender Will Birchard CM '21 observed.
From the very first pass, the Poets tried to break through the Stags’ seemingly impenetrable back line. All of Whittier's passes were met with textbook clearance. CMS demonstrated technical prowess, turning these clearances into quick, intelligent counterattacks.
But, as Birchard noted, the only element absent from the formula was the final product.
The first half found numerous scoring opportunities for CMS with an impressive volley shot at 4:55 by Justin Gadalla HM '20, a beautiful cross on the ground that only just rolled past the target man at 22:55, and a series of three close corner kick chances at 29:33.
Inevitably, the ball would fly past the keeper soon — it just wasn’t the keeper the fans were hoping for.
With just 1:02 remaining in the half, Whittier foward Alejandro Trujillo took advantage of confusion surrounding a potential foul that wasn’t called with a breakaway run, slotting the ball past the fingertips of Daniel Cui CM ‘18 into the left hand side netting. “We thought there was a whistle and there wasn’t,” CMS coach Matt Edwards remarked. “That’s on us.”
The second half told the same story as the first half for CMS – intense effort to reach the final third of the field followed by squandered finishes.
Spectators on both sides held their breath multiple times as the Stags continued pressing offensively. There were three near-goals that soared just past the top left of the frame at 59:13, 60:44, and 61:29. But it just wasn’t enough.
In the wake of the loss, the fans were not discouraged from cheering on their senior Stags. “For the seniors tonight, it’s been an interesting path,” Edwards reflected. “We thank them for all their service and their commitment and they will be missed dearly.”
It must be disappointing for these seniors that they did not reach the playoffs. However, it’s important to acknowledge that when one door closes, another opens. “Looking forward, it’s gonna be a good four years,” Will Birchard CM '21 commented optimistically. “We have a lot of talent and if we keep pushing forward, it’s gonna be hard to stop us.”