Athenas Overcome Early Deficit, Run Away from Bulldogs

Luisa Valles in the midfield
Luisa Valles carries the ball through the midfield.

REDLANDS, Calif. – With 13:22 remaining in the first-half on Saturday night, the Athenas trailed the Redlands Bulldogs 4-2 and faced a two-goal deficit for the first time against a Division III opponent this season. Four-straight CMS goals ended the period and the Athenas took a 6-4 lead into the half. The Athenas separated themselves from the Bulldogs with a 10-3 scoring margin in the second-half to claim the 16-7 victory and lock up at least a share of their fourth SCIAC Championship in program history.

As the usually do, the Athenas shared the offensive load with eight different players scoring goals with five Athenas scoring multiple goals. Corie Hack (CMC), Hannah Graves (CMC), and Sally Abel (CMC) each netted three goals in the victory.

Everything seemed to be business as usual for the 14-1 CMS Athenas in the opening minutes of Saturday's contest. Hannah Graves scored just over two and a half minutes into the game to give CMS the early lead that they are accustom to holding. Eight minutes later, Corie Hack doubled the CMS lead with an unassisted goal with 19:32 remaining in the opening half.

With CMS leading 2-0, Redlands' Sadie Pickering scored on a free position shot to cut the Athenas' lead down to one. Less than a minute later, the game was tied after Kelsey Ruhl found Lacey Bjorndal for the game-tying goal. In the next three minutes the Bulldogs scored two more times with Hanna Morford scoring her first of the game and Pickering notching her second. The 4-0 Redlands run lasted four minutes and turned a two-goal CMS lead into a two-goal advantage for the Bulldogs.

A key save on a free position shot by CMS goalie Anna Gillespie (SC) gave the Athenas the ball. On the ensuing possession, Blaire Southmayd (CMC) scored a free position shot of her own to cut the deficit back down to one at 4-3 with 12:16 remaining in the half.

Free position goals from Evan Murphy (CMC) and Hannah Graves just over four minutes apart gave the Athenas the lead back with 3:35 remaining in the half at 5-4. Hack scored her second goal of the game in the final 90 seconds of the half to close out the scoring in the opening period and give CMS a 6-4 lead heading to the second-half.

Sally Abel struck for two goals in the first four-plus minutes of the second-half to give CMS an 8-4 lead. A Redlands goal from Lacy Bjorndal broke up the CMS scoring streak, but only briefly. Four more goals from Hack, Abel, Murphy, and Graves gave the Athenas a 12-5 advantage midway through the second-half.

Redlands would score two goals in the final 15 minutes of the contest, but CMS would counter with four goals of their own with tallies coming from Allie Hill (CMC), Lauren Clubb (CMC), and Emma Johnson (SC) to close out the 16-7 victory. In total, the Athenas scored 14 of the final 17 goals in the game and, during a 30-minute stretch in the middle of the tilt, went on a 10-1 run to change the complexion of the contest.

With the victory the Athenas extend their winning streak to 14 games and move to 8-0 in the SCIAC this season. Regardless of the results in their final two regular season games, the Athenas have claimed at least a share of the SCIAC Championship and have locked up the top-seed in the upcoming SCIAC Tournament.

The Athenas will play their final regular season home game on Wednesday when they host the Whittier Poets at 7:00 p.m. on Zinda Field.