Birchard's Overtime Penalty Kick Gives CMS Men's Soccer Sole Possession of SCIAC Regular Season Title

Birchard's Overtime Penalty Kick Gives CMS Men's Soccer Sole Possession of SCIAC Regular Season Title

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Sophomore William Birchard scored on a penalty kick 3:30 into overtime to give the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team the SCIAC regular season title outright and the top seed in next week's conference tournament with a 1-0 road win over Occidental on Saturday night.

The Stags improve to 15-2 overall and 12-2 in the SCIAC with the win, including 14 shutouts in 17 games, while allowing only four goals all season. Two of the four goals allowed came in the first meeting with Occidental, a 2-0 win at Pritzlaff Field, and the Tigers (10-4) had a chance to pull even with CMS with a win on Saturday, which would have created a three-way share of the regular season title with Redlands. 

CMS needed only a tie to win the SCIAC title outright and seemed content to play to a 0-0 draw, hitting overtime with only four shot attempts on the day, but allowing Occidental only nine (one of which was on net). However, just 3:30 into the extra session, the Tigers were whistled for a foul in the box, and Birchard buried it for his team-leading sixth goal of the season, three of which have been from the spot. One of his other goals was a 25-yard free kick in the 83rd minute of Wednesday's 1-0 home win over Redlands, which gave the Stags sole possession of first place, which it maintained with the win on Saturday. 

Freshman goalie Jacob Mays made his only save of the day in the 10th minute, denying Occidental's Ben Simon. Mays improved his shutout total to 14 on the year, which his season high in saves remains only four. Occidental goalie Scott Drazan also made one save in the first half, a header from junior center back Adam Singer off a corner kick in the 33rd minute. Freshman William Barton had a shot in the 76th minute saved by Drazan, but that was the only shot on target for either team in the second half. 

CMS began the year with eight straight shutouts, setting a new single-season school record for consecutive shutouts, and then closed the season with five more in a row to head into the postseason tournament on a five-game win streak. CMS will host a semifinal on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against fourth-seeded Chapman, which is the only SCIAC team that the Stags did not shut out this season. The teams met only once, with CMS taking a 2-1 overtime win at Chapman on Sept. 26. 

The 15-2 regular season record represents a remarkable turnaround for the Stags, who finished 4-11-1 last year in an injury-plagued season and missed the SCIAC Tournament by finishing eighth in the league. The first place finish marks the first regular season title for the program since the 2013 team took first place, while it is only the second since 2000. The 15 wins are also the highest win total for the Stags since the 2000 and 2001 teams won 18 in back-to-back seasons.