CLAREMONT, Calif. - Sophomore defender William Birchard scored off a short corner 10:30 into the second half to account for the game's only goal as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team picked up its fourth straight shutout win to start the season, defeating Maclaster 1-0 on Friday night at Pritzlaff Field.
With the win, the Stags improve to 4-0 on the year, outscoring their first four opponents 14-0. Macalaster suffers its first defeat of the young season and falls to 1-1-1.
Sophomore midfielder Nate Huntington earned the assist to Birchard on the short corner, and then had the defensive play of the game, clearing a bicycle kick from Macalaster's Clayton Smith off the line with just over five minutes to play. The Scots had a corner kick that pinged around in the box before finding its way to Smith with his back to goal. He was able to get a clean bicycle kick off that was destined for the net, but Huntington was able to slide over and chest the ball back into the field of play before it crossed.
Huntington was the point person for the Stags' goal as well as he took a corner kick on the left side of the field. Instead of playing it into traffic, he sent a short pass outside the box to Birchard, who cracked a one-timer with his left foot that hit off the inside of the near post and over the line to make the score 1-0.
The goal gave the Stags a 1-0 win over a Macalaster team that was 12-6-1 last year and presented a tough final test before SCIAC play starts in earnest next week. Birchard felt that the win was significant to keep the momentum of the early-season successes moving forward.
"It was absolutely huge honestly," said Birchard. "For us to win this kind of game against a top team like Maclaster, who is not a type of team we normally face - very gritty, very determined - it was huge. It was honestly something that we wouldn't have gotten last year, but this year it's changed."
The game-winning strike came after a mostly uneventful first 55 minutes, as neither team was able to generate many chances. Huntington had a solid chance to score in the sixth minute, but missed just wide of the left post from 12 yards out, and the game was mostly played in the middle of the field between the penalty areas over the next 50 minutes.
Freshman Jacob Mays had his fourth straight shutout, but did not have a save until the final minute, when he made a one-handed snag of a shot from Nick Moore with 31 seconds left from a tough angle along the end line that ended up on target. The Stag defense, which featured sophomore Kevin Proudfoot in the middle for the first time alongside junior captain Adam Singer, continued to lock down its opponents, something that Birchard says has been a source of pride for his unit.
"It's tremendous, especially compared to last year," said Birchard. "The grit and determination that we've been kind of pressing since the beginning of preseason, everyone has really instilled and ingrained in themselves. it's fantastic to know that everyone is going to put their bodies on the line to prevent a goal from going in."
CMS will be back in action when it resumes SCIAC play on Wednesday with a 4 p.m. road game at Pomona-Pitzer, then returns home to face Cal Lutheran next Saturday at 7 p.m.