CMS Men's Soccer Celebrates Senior Day with 4-0 Win, Outright SCIAC Title

CMS honored its seven seniors and their families prior to the contest (photo by Daniel Addison)
CMS honored its seven seniors and their families prior to the contest (photo by Daniel Addison)

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The No. 16 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team honored its seven seniors prior to the contest and went on to capture a 4-0 win over Caltech on Saturday evening at Pritzlaff Field to earn the outright regular season SCIAC title for the second season in a row.

With the win, CMS concludes the regular season with a 12-3-2 overall record and a 9-1-2 in conference, improving its record in the last two seasons to 27-5-3. The Stags came into the day with a one-game lead on Whittier and Redlands and with the top seed already sewn up, but avoided falling into a tie and sharing the regular season title with their win, giving it the first back-to-back titles for the program since 1999 and 2000. 

Four different players scored for CMS, beginning with a goal from sophomore William Barton just 5:24 into the contest, his second game-winning goal of the week after getting the overtime game-winner at Whittier on Wednesday which gave CMS sole possesion of first place. Sophomore Grant Donaldson, junior Leonardo Lindo and senior Isaiah Alba each added their first goals of the season, with Alba scoring on a diving header on his Senior Day with just nine seconds remaining in the game off a Lindo cross. 

"All year I haven't been able to get a goal, and getting one for my team at the end of the year, especially to cap off my senior year, was a really special moment," said Alba. "I was just happy to be able to celebrate it with everyone I love." 

Barton got the scoring started in the sixth minute on a play that began with a long ball from sophomore Samay Rahim out of the back to the right corner of the penalty area. Senior Cole Smith outraced the Caltech defense and onrushing goalkeeper Max Popken to get on the back end of it at the top of the 18, and he sent a cross to Barton, who patiently waited behind the ball to avoid being in an offside position and headed it into the empty net for his seventh goal of the year. 

Smith added a second assist just over six minutes later from the opposite side of the field, sending a cross through the middle of the penalty area that got through to the weak side where Donaldson was able to get on the back end of it. From just inside the top of the box, Donaldson blasted a right footed shot with too much power on it for Popken to make a fingertip save, making it a 2-0 game at the 12:25 mark.

The 2-0 lead held until 15 minutes into the second half, when CMS salted the game away on a counter. Sophomore defender Alex Karasinski played a long ball up the left sideline and Lindo was able to get behind the Caltech defense to gather it in. He dribbled into the box and slotted a low shot inside the right post to make it a 3-0 game at the 60:09 mark. 

The game was on the verge of ending in a 3-0 final, before Alba was able to add a Senior Day goal. Lindo set it up from the right side when he chipped a cross towards the top of the six-yard box. Alba got on the back end of it, and his diving header tucked into the net to make it a 4-0 final score with only nine seconds left in the game. 

For the senior class, the second straight title was a dramatic turnaround from an injury-plagued sophomore season when the Stags ended up 4-11-1 and played a meaningless regular season finale, defeating La Verne after already being eliminated from SCIAC contention. This year's finale was also meaningless for SCIAC Tournament purposes, but only because the Stags had already sewn up the top seed even before their final contest. 

"We've gone from 4-11 to winning the SCIAC title last year and now winning it again," reflected Alba. "That's something we haven't done for close to 20 years. I'm just so proud of everyone for how much they've grown up from freshman year. Every class, I feel like we all have each other's backs, and we all have a goal in mind we want to get to."  

CMS will try to take the next step towards its goals when it hosts Occidental on Wednesday night in the SCIAC semifinals, beginning at 7 p.m. If the Stags win, they will host the conference championship game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. against the winner of the other semifinal between Whittier and La Verne.