Hungry for their first conference title in seven years, the Stags weren’t taking any chances.
On the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s soccer team’s first shot in the SCIAC championship game against Redlands on Saturday, forward William Barton CM ’22 made sure he made the most of his opportunity, tucking the ball into the bottom corner of the net to give CMS a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Before the evening was over, the Stags (14-3-2, 9-1-2 SCIAC) added another goal, giving them a 2-0 victory in front of a crowd of over 800, a SCIAC title and a spot in the NCAA tournament.
The prospect of securing a bid in the NCAA tournament was one of the key motivators for the Stags during the game, especially since they fell just short of the national tournament last year.
“After being snubbed last year, we’re really excited to make an impact this year. Part of winning today was to prove that we actually belong in the tournament,” Adam Singer CM ’20 said. “We didn’t want to leave anything up to the committee’s hands.”
Last year, the Stags lost in the SCIAC semifinal match to Chapman in double overtime, after beating them in regular season play.
“We didn’t work this hard to blow it in the last game,” Singer added after this year’s victory.
In earlier contests this year, the Stags tied Redlands 0-0 and 2-2.
“This time, we came out with a different mentality,” midfielder Samay Rahim CM ’22 said. “We wanted to win. We knew we tied them both times, so this time we weren’t going to let them beat us on our field.”
In the ninth minute, CMS got its chance when forward Cole Smith CM ’20 stole the ball from a Redlands defender and connected with Barton, who scored the goal that put the Stags ahead.
In the 74th minute — only four minutes after getting subbed in — forward Ethan Tyng CM ’22 put another goal away right above the hands of the Redlands keeper off a chip through ball from midfielder Justin Blachman CM ’23.
Tyng’s goal all but sealed the Stags’ SCIAC title, as the Bulldogs only got off one more shot during the remaining 26 minutes.
“The shots just fell for us,” Tyng said. “We had a bunch of shots in the first two games that just didn’t go in; we had a lot of opportunities that couldn’t come. Today, they just fell and went in the back of the net, and that was huge.”
Tyng, who also scored the Stags’ second goal against Occidental in the semifinal match, was named the tournament’s MVP.
Players noted that the two regular season matchups between the teams helped CMS strategize for the championship game.
“We knew what their tactics were,” Singer said. “They wanted to get their guys high, so our game plan was to step really quickly to those guys and force them long because we knew we could dominate them in the air.”
Depth has played a key role in the team’s success this season; in the championship game, 20 different Stags saw playing time.
“Everyone who got in was able to step up,” Rahim said. “We don’t have one weak link. Every time someone comes in off the bench, they bring the same energy as the guys before. Just relying on every guy is the biggest part of our team.”
CMS will head to Texas to take on Texas Lutheran in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday.