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The Sagehen Report for October 29

Men's Soccer has secured the 2012 SCIAC championship.

Men's Soccer has secured the 2012 SCIAC championship.

It was a terrific week to be a Sagehen fan, with huge wins, clutch performances, remarkable efforts and unlikely heroes making for all sorts of interesting storylines, highlighted by the 2012 SCIAC championship for the Men’s Soccer team, which has won 11 games in a row.

Monday got the week off to a roaring start, as Men’s Soccer traveled to Redlands in a battle of the top two teams in the SCIAC. Pomona-Pitzer entered the game with an eight-game winning streak, while Redlands came in with seven wins in a row. The winner of the game would take over sole possession of first place and have the inside track for the SCIAC Championship. 

The Sagehens brought their “A” game and controlled much of the possession throughout, but the score was still 0-0 into the 70th minute. That was when Ryan Miller ’14 struck for his second huge goal in a span of five days. The game-winning goal was set up by a long throw-in from co-captain Erik Munzer PI ’13, who sent the ball into the box. Avery Raimondo ’15 got to the loose ball and sent a shot on net, which bounced around near the goal line, and Miller was able to bury it for his second goal of the year (and third of his career). His first goal this season was on a diving header with 2:19 left in the second overtime of a 2-1 win over Whittier last week. Rollie Thayer ’13 had six saves for the shutout, including one final save with two seconds left as the drama came right down to the final countdown.

That win set a big Wednesday for the athletic department. Or perhaps it should be called “Winsday” as Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer and Men’s Water Polo all picked up huge wins in simultaneous matches that began at 4 p.m. Men’s Soccer clinched the 2012 SCIAC championship with a 1-0 win over Caltech, as an early goal from Arash Mahboubi ’15 held up and the Sagehens were able to celebrate a league championship and the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Pomona-Pitzer stretched its winning streak to 11 games (the longest since the 1973 team won 14 in a row) with a 4-0 win over La Verne on Saturday, and will host Whittier on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in one of two SCIAC semifinals. A win against Whittier would enable the Sagehens to host the finals on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

Men’s Water Polo, meanwhile, hosted a big showdown of its own, as the last two teams left unbeaten in the SCIAC met at Haldeman Pool on Wednesday with the 4-0 Sagehens facing 5-0 Whittier. After the teams went into halftime tied 3-3, Pomona-Pitzer exploded for six unanswered goals in the second half to take a 9-3 lead. Whittier cut the lead down to 9-7 with four goals in the final minute, but could come no closer. Mark Hudnall ’13 led the way with three goals, while Jason Cox PI ’13 added two. Pomona-Pitzer added an 18-6 win over Caltech on Saturday behind four goals apiece from Phillip Clayman ’16 and Travis Larsen ’15, while Robert Chew ’14 added three. The Sagehens close out the regular season this week with home matches against Air Force on Friday, and CMS on Saturday, which could be a battle for the top seed in the SCIAC Championships.

The third big win on Wednesday came from Women’s Soccer, which faced Redlands at home, needing a win to keep its postseason hopes alive (a loss or tie would eliminate the Sagehens and give Redlands the final bid). Allie Tao ’14 nearly gave the Sagehens a 1-0 lead late in the first half, but her chip hit the crossbar and bounced away. The game remained deadlocked 0-0 until late in regulation, when Natalie Barbaresi ’16 stepped up with the perfect time for first collegiate goal in the 83rd minute to give the Sagehens a dramatic 1-0 win. Barbaresi, who had a preseason injury and has seen limited action this fall (and who’s natural position is on defense), finished in front from a tough angle, after a free kick taken by Ari Sanchez ’14 was headed past the goalkeeper by Sam Thompson PI ’15.

That win left the Sagehens with a little more work to do on Saturday, as they needed to win at La Verne in order to secure the SCIAC bid. Pomona-Pitzer almost went into the game without a goalkeeper, as Helena Epps ’16 was injured in practice on Friday and was uncertain to play (goalkeeper Annie Wedel ’16 had already been lost for the season with an injury in September). Claire Mueller ‘13, a normal starting defender, was prepared to be the emergency goalkeeper, but Epps played through a significant amount of pain. It was a good thing, too, as Mueller was the one who ended up scoring the game’s only goal late in the first half (her first of the season) as the Sagehens punched their playoff ticket with a 1-0 win. Pomona-Pitzer will open the SCIAC playoffs at top-seeded Cal Lutheran on Wednesday.

The top individual performance of the week would likely have to go to Duncan Hussey ’13, for what he provided for the Football team at Occidental in the annual Battle of the Drum, before the Sagehens lost a heartbreaker 31-27. Hussey, a senior safety and team captain, played both ways, and finished the day with 13 catches for 218 yards and a school-record tying 3 touchdowns, in only his second game ever playing wide receiver (last week was the first), while also adding five tackles, a sack and a pass break-up as a safety on defense.  

Pomona-Pitzer trailed 21-7 at the half, but Hussey had 11 catches for 205 yards and three touchdowns in the second half alone, including a 78-yarder on the first play from scrimmage. He also had two catches on 4th and long to keep Pomona-Pitzer's next two touchdown drives alive in the fourth quarter, and gave the Sagehens a 27-24 lead with his third TD catch with 2:40 to go (before Occidental drove for the winning TD with 58 seconds left). On defense, he also had a third-down sack to end an Occidental drive in Sagehen territory in the third quarter, and had a key pass break-up to kill another drive inside the Pomona-Pitzer 20 in the fourth quarter. Luke Ferguson ’13 added 319 yards passing, while Brett Harper ’16 had 136 yards on the ground. The Sagehens host Redlands this weekend, before closing out with their other big rivalry game, at home against CMS on Nov. 10.

There were still more strong performances for the Men’s Cross Country team at the SCIAC Championships, as the Sagehens finished a very close second to heavy favorite Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, falling by just six points (33-39). Pomona-Pitzer had four of the top seven finishers, led by Alex Johnson PI ’13, who came in second place, just two seconds away from the individual championship. Alex Johann ’14 was close behind in fourth place, while John Fowler ’16 and Ben Girodias ’15 came in sixth and seventh place, respectively. The Women’s Cross Country team, meanwhile, was missing All-American Annie Lydens ’13 due to injury, who was unable to defend her SCIAC championship. The team still finished a solid third without her, as Camille Matonis PI ’15 and Claire Brickson ’14 led the way by finishing neck-and-neck in 15th and 16th place.  

The fall is slowly wrapping up, but the winter sports got underway this weekend as well, with the Men’s and Women’s Swimming teams traveling to Pepperdine to compete in the Malibu Invitational. Tommy DePaoli ’13 (100 fly) and Hugh Berryman (50 back) earned first-place finishes for the men, while Ferrel Atkins ’16 had a strong debut in the breaststroke with two second-place finishes and a third-place finish. Mia Hahn ’16 led the women’s side in her debut with a third-place effort in the 50 back and a fifth-place finish in the 100 back, finishing only behind Division I swimmers from Loyola Marymount in both events.

Sagehen fans can also get a first look at the Men’s Basketball team, which is a possible SCIAC championship contender this year, when it hosts the Afghanistan National Team at Voelkel Gymnasium on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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This Week’s Schedule

Home Events In Bold

Wednesday, Oct. 31
Men’s Water Polo at Chapman, 4 p.m.

Women’s Soccer at Cal Lutheran, 7 p.m. (SCIAC Semifinals)

Thursday, Nov. 1
Men’s Soccer (H) vs. Whittier, 2:30 p.m. (SCIAC Semifinals)

Friday, Nov. 2
Men’s Water Polo (H) vs. Air Force, 1 p.m.
Men’s Basketball (H) vs. Afghanistan, 7:30 p.m. (exhibition)

Saturday, Nov. 3
M+W Swimming (H) – Pomona-Pitzer Relays, 10 a.m.
Men’s Soccer (H) – SCIAC Finals, 11 a.m. (if PP advances)
Football (H) vs. Redlands, 1 p.m.
Men’s Water Polo (H) vs. CMS, 7 p.m.
Women’s Soccer at SCIAC Finals, TBA (if PP advances)