Regals shut out Athenas in third straight win

Senior midfielder Jordan Miller wins the ball high in front of Claremont's net.  Photo by Brooke Stanley- Sports Editor
Senior midfielder Jordan Miller wins the ball high in front of Claremont’s net.
Photo by Brooke Stanley- Sports Editor

In a battle between the top two teams in the league, the California Lutheran University women’s soccer team hosted the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at William Rolland Stadium. The Regals walked away with a 1-0 victory over the Athenas, defending their number-one spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

From the opening kickoff, the Regals established their physicality on defense, quickly gaining and keeping possession for the majority of the game. Five minutes into the game, the Regals took their first shot. Sophomore defender Trinity Martinez crossed the ball from the right side to the middle of the field where junior midfielder Emily Williams headed it, just missing the left corner of the net.

Unfazed by the missed shot, Martinez passed a perfectly-placed through ball down the left side of the field to sophomore forward Sam Cornejo, who crossed it to sophomore defender Alexandra Fagerberg. Fagerberg put it away in the top-left corner of the net, tallying her second goal of the season. The Regals scored their first goal of the game before the 20-minute mark.

“There was a great buildup of one-two passing,” Fagerberg said. “Then Sam got the ball down the line…crossed it to me and I was able to sprint past the defender and finish.”

The Regals finished the first half with a 1-0 lead.

Two minutes into the start of the second half, the Regals looked to increase their lead after a successful pass left Cornejo wide open with just Claremont’s sophomore goalkeeper Claire Hamson to beat. Cornejo’s shot was blocked by Hamson’s outstretched foot. Soon after, Williams’ second shot traveled just wide of the goal.

Sophomore defender Trinity Martinez takes advantage of open space as she dribbles towards Claremont's goal.  Photo by Brooke Stanley- Sports Editor
Sophomore defender Trinity Martinez takes advantage of open space as she dribbles towards Claremont’s goal.
Photo by Brooke Stanley- Sports Editor

The Regals continued to maintain possession, limiting the Athenas’ chances of scoring an equalizing goal. With 20 minutes left in the match, the Athenas came close to scoring, but could not cash in after the Regals’ first-year goalkeeper Alexa Soto parried a shot on goal and the Athenas’ junior forward Kira Favakeh missed wide on the second attempt.

“One of our game plans has been to play tough defense and continue to keep possession of the ball,” Cornejo said. “Then we can work the ball out from the middle to the side and try to find the pockets within down the middle of the field.”

The Regals continued to dominate the play of the ball, not allowing the Athenas to take another shot on goal for the remainder of the game. The Regals finished strong with a final score of 1-0.

“Playing tough defense and maintaining possession of the ball has been something we’ve stressed all season,” Assistant Coach Jonathan Decker said. “We’re going to look to possess the ball, but with a purpose, and get high-quality shots instead of playing the long ball.”

Decker said he was pleased with the way the team played.

“We tend to get caught on everybody’s focused on the ball and runners start getting in behind us,” Decker said. “But we want our players looking in behind to the rest of the field so that we can cut lanes off so they can’t get the ball in to other players and that’s what we were able to do today.”

The Regals, who are 3-0 in SCIAC, look for their fourth consecutive victory as they take on the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens in Claremont on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Scott Roberts