The women’s soccer team is headed back to the NCAA tournament, while the men will make their first appearance since 2000, thanks to big tournament performances this past weekend.
The fourth seeded Stags began the tournament vs. top seed Pomona-Pitzer on Wednesday afternoon. In the first half, the only true scoring chance for either side was when Tomislav Zbozinek CM ’10 put a free kick off of the cross bar, and so the opening period ended in a draw. In the second half, the Stags continued to keep the pressure on the Sagecock defense, eventually leading to a scramble in front of the net, leading to an Eric Bean CM ’12 header, putting the Stags up 1-0. The Stags didn’t look back, adding another late goal, clinching the victory and a spot in the SCIAC finals vs. Redlands.
Against Redlands, the Stags again came out after a scoreless first half and took a 1-0 lead off of a Harrison Doyle CM ’13 goal a couple minutes into the second period. The Bulldogs answered seven minutes later off of a rebound, and the game stayed even until the 87th minute. Off an Ian Anderson CM ’11 corner, David Taylor CM ’13 controlled the ball and put it in the back of the net for the game-winner, breaking Redlands’ eight year SCIAC championship streak in the process.
The top seeded women, after an undefeated regular season in SCIAC, hosted the fourth seeded Cal Lutheran Regals in their semi-final matchup. Although the women could not seem to put together a true offensive threat in the first half, the Regals struggled more against the tough Athena defense. In the second half, Lizzie Van Buskirk CM ’11 put the Athenas up 1-0 off a pass from Laura Hagen CM ’11. The defense held strong after the first goal, and Julia Raney CM ’13 added some insurance in the 69th minute to give the women a 2-0 victory.
In the finals, the Athenas hosted the Occidental Tigers. After a Laura Hagen goal (her team leading 13th of the season) in the 13th minute, the Athenas clung to their 1-0 lead for the rest of the game. Camila Friedman-Gerlicz CM ’10 made a huge save in the final minute, stopping a potential equalizer and its rebound to preserve the victory and give the Athenas their second consecutive SCIAC tournament championship.
The Athenas will host UC Santa Cruz, a team they beat 3-2 at home two weeks ago, at 11 am on Saturday on Pritzlaff field. Their bracket can be found here.
The Stags will travel to Santa Cruz to also take on the Banana Slugs for an 11 am match on Saturday. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Claremont a month ago. The men’s bracket is available here.