Early Goal Holds Up, Athenas Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

photo credit: Mitch Allan
photo credit: Mitch Allan

CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's soccer team kept their SCIAC playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over the Whittier Poets on Wednesday night. Sarah Malott (CMC) connected in the ninth minute off a pass from Rhiann Holman (CMC) for her fifth goal of the season and the lone tally of the evening.

The victory moves the Athenas to 4-4-5 in the SCIAC and makes the final Saturday of the season an interesting one. The victory over Whittier, paired with losses by La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer puts six teams in the mix for the final three playoff spots.

Whittier controlled the opening minutes of Wednesday's contest, putting together some dangerous opportunities. In the second minute, Claire Hamson (CMC) was called on to save a shot by Sophie Nicotero, four minutes later a header from Jazmin Gomez sailed wide right, and in the eighth minute a shot from Leah Kolek went high.

Slightly against the early run of play, the Athenas had their first chance in the attacking end when Megan Lo (CMC) broke free and fired a shot from the left-side in the eighth minute. Her attempt was pushed away by the Poets' keeper, but remained in play. Rhiann Holman picked up the ball near the end line, on the right side, and sent a pass to the corner of the box for Sarah Malott.

Malott took a touch before firing a shot that deflected off a defender into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season. The tally gave the Athenas the early 1-0 lead less than nine minute into the contest.

Following the goal, play seemed to settled down for both sides with most of the seven combined shots coming from distance. CMS did force the Whittier keeper, Lyla Matar, to make a pair of saves in the 19th and 20th minutes off shots from Sarah Tocher (CMC) and Jacey Coniff (HMC), but the match remained 1-0 into the half.

After the break each goalie was tested twice with shots on target, but they were turned away without issue and the Athenas held on for the important 1-0 victory.

As mentioned, six teams will be battling on the final weekend for the final three playoff spots. Cal Lutheran (10-1-2 in conference) has locked up the top seed in the tournament, but La Verne (5-5-3), Pomona-Pitzer (5-5-3), and Whittier (6-7-0) all tied for second with 18 points. CMS (4-4-5) and Occidental (5-6-2) are currently on the outside looking in with 17 points and Redlands (5-7-1) is lurking with 16 points.

With all sorts of scenarios still in play, the Athenas need to take care of business on Saturday night before worrying about what is happening around the conference. CMS hosts Redlands at 7:00 p.m. on Pritzlaff Field in the final game of the season.