A rebuilding year isn’t supposed to look like the year Pomona-Pitzer’s women’s soccer team is having with a week remaining in the regular season.
The four-time defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions graduated six all-conference players following the 2022 campaign in addition to most of their supporting coaching staff.
While favored this past August to capture a fifth consecutive SCIAC title in 2023, the Sagehens began the season unranked in the NCAA Division III pre-season poll.
“If you looked on paper,” longtime Head Coach Jen Scanlon says, “a lot of people expected this to be a rebuilding year. And we knew it didn’t have to be, but we also knew it wasn’t guaranteed it wouldn’t be.”
Undefeated for the last two months, Pomona-Pitzer is now ranked 18th in the country and a win away from an 11th SCIAC championship.
This, despite heading into the year with a revamped starting lineup and relatively young team.
“We were all nervous coming in because we didn’t know what to expect,” midfielder Ella Endo ’25 says. “But the results showed right away. Our grit, our hard work. Cohesion took a little time, but once we got to know each other on and off the field, it translated to great results.”
Endo and fellow returning midfielder Eli Prosnitz ’25 say erasing a 1-0 deficit to defeat Texas’ Trinity University the first week of the season quickly quashed any idea of 2023 being a down year.
The 2-1 victory was Pomona-Pitzer’s first over Trinity since 1991 and a little revenge against the team that ended its last two playoff runs.
Prosnitz says the comeback win over the then-ninth-ranked Tigers “boosted our confidence and morale.”
Endo adds, “We saw how much we wanted that win and how hard we’d work for it. We hadn’t practiced much together and didn’t know how we’d play together, but we saw how much each individual person was willing to put on the field and got the result we wanted.”
A flawless September vaulted Pomona-Pitzer to seventh in the country, and while their ranking has since dropped on account of two ties, the Sagehens remain unbeaten at 13-0-2 (9-0-2 in the SCIAC) with a conference match against Occidental still to play.
Defensively, Pomona-Pitzer has ceded only four goals thanks, in large part, to standout first-year teammates Vivian Rojas Collins ’27 and goalkeeper Patricia DePalma ’27.
Pacing the team in minutes played, Rojas Collins recently earned SCIAC Defensive Athlete of the Week honors, while DePalma is threatening to break the program record for lowest goals against average in a single season.
“This isn’t our peak,” DePalma says. “I think we’re only going to get better.”
Before the season, Pomona-Pitzer adopted the slogan “Aim higher,” a phrase that appears on the back of every player’s practice tee. “Higher” at this point of the year, players say, isn’t what it was in September.
Now, another conference championship is within reach, as is the program mark for wins in a season (20) should the Sagehens win the SCIAC Tournament Championship next week and make a deep run in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Until then, however, Scanlon and her captains refuse to let their team lose perspective.
“We’ve tried not to look too far ahead or talk about what the ultimate goal is because then you lose sight of what you need to do in the moment, day after day,” Scanlon says. “But it’s been exciting to see this group make this season their own.”
Thursday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 4, SCIAC Championships, TBD.
Livestreams can be viewed on the Pomona-Pitzer Athletics website.