On a gusty Halloween evening, the No. 2 California Lutheran University women’s soccer team lost 2-1 to the No. 3 Occidental Tigers on Wednesday, Oct .31 in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Association playoffs.
Occidental was able to break through for the first goal in the 12th minute after a controversial tackle left sophomore forward Dylan Wensley a great look on goal. Wensley recovered the ball in the middle of the field from Regal’s junior defender Riley Martin and shot a high-arching shot that landed in the top left corner of the goal, just past the outstretched hands of sophomore goalkeeper Gabby Flores.
Looking for an equalizer in the 27th minute, first-year defender Danielle Vis got the ball on the left side and was able to dribble past the defense and get a shot off with her left foot that missed just high of the goal.
Following a few more opportunities to score, the Regals went into the half trailing 1-0.
Four minutes into the second half, the Regals looked to get things going as sophomore defender Alexandra Fagerberg was able to steal the ball and quickly pass to senior forward Ryley Settles on the right side. Settles dribbled into the box and took a shot from the right corner that deflected off the defense and landed in possession of senior midfielder Emily Williams who took a shot that was blocked by the goalkeeper.
In the 59th minute, Occidental missed a great opportunity of their own thanks to great defense by the Regals. After a cross from the corner forced Flores out of goal, the Tigers shot on an open goal but junior defender Zandra Stewart was able to bicycle kick the ball away before the ball crossed the line.
The Tigers responded again five minutes later with another goal into the top right corner from a free kick taken just outside the box to push their lead to 2-0.
Not finished without a fight, the Regals got on the board with just three minutes left as a handball in the box gave the Regals a penalty kick. Fagerberg took the shot and scored into the middle of the net to move the score to 2-1.
With one last chance to equalize, Settles took the ball down the middle of the field with 15 seconds remaining and got a shot off under pressure that missed just high as time expired on the clock.
“It’s sucks to end on a note like this, but I’m just really proud of everyone coming together and carrying us through this season,” Williams said on her final game at Cal Lutheran. “This has been the best four years of my life and I’ve made so many new friends, but I know that they’re gonna kill it in the year to come.”
Only graduating six seniors, the Regals will come back next year carrying 23 returners prepared to continue where they left off.
“We just have to learn from this year and move on,” Fagerberg said. “We’ll miss the seniors for sure, but we’re positive moving forward and we’re gonna be better next year.”
Assistant Coach Jonathan Decker said he was frustrated with the loss, but also excited about the years to come.
“It’s always tough to end like this, but I’m proud of this team and we’re excited about what we’re gonna have back next year,” Decker said. “We’re really creating a good soccer program here and we’re gonna play the game the right way and this year showed that we’re definitely on the right track.”
By Scott Roberts