Claremont, Calif. - Sophomore forward Michael Ceragioli (Incline Village, Nev. - pictured, photo by Bryan Matsumoto) scored just two minutes into the game, and freshman Lawrence McDonald (Oakland, Calif.) tacked on a late insurance goal as the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team earned a 2-0 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Pritzlaff Field.
With the win, the Sagehens improve to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the SCIAC, while knocking their rival Stags (4-2, 2-1 SCIAC) from the ranks of the unbeaten in league play.
Ceragioli gave Pomona-Pitzer a big lift just two minutes into the game when he got behind the defense on the left side and was able to push a shot past Stags goalkeeper Frederick Doar to give the Sagehens a 1-0 lead.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps nearly got the equalizer in the eighth minute, as junior goalkeeper Rollie Thayer (Shorewood, Minn.) raced out of net, but was beaten to the ball by Stag forward Jared Bernstein, who had an open look from 15 yards. However, junior defender Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.) sprinted back and miraculously chested the ball wide of the right post for a corner kick.
The teams then traded near misses in the latter stages of the first half. Senior forward Evan Munoz (Upland, Calif.) nearly converted on his own rebound in front of the net in the 31st minute, but Doar got off the ground just in time to make the save. The Stags then nearly tied it up in the 36th minute when Jake Bishop got free in the box and sent a rocket toward net from 12 yards, but Thayer made a reflex save to keep the score 1-0.
"I thought we dogded some bullets in the first half," said head coach Bill Swartz. "They were putting a lot of pressure on us with three players up top and two in the hole. At halftime, we adjusted a little and had our midfielders pinch in and invite their fullbacks to play, which gave us a little better match-up."
Ceragioli nearly added a second goal in the opening minutes of the second half, but his 12-yard one-timer off a cross from junior midfielder Danny Nasry (Portland, Ore.) went over the bar.
Pomona-Pitzer did get its second goal in the 79th minute with the help of a brilliant individual effort from freshman defender Mark Raftery (Palo Alto, Calif.). A CMS player attempted to sprint past Raftery along the left sideline near the midfield stripe, but Raftery was able to get his leg in, poke the ball free, and barely keep it from rolling out of bounds. He then took one dribble and smacked a bending 40-yard cross that curved around a Stags defender and found McDonald all alone in the middle of the box. McDonald gathered the ball in and slotted a shot past a helpless Doar to make the score 2-0.
Thayer finished off a seven-save shutout performance with a spectacular save off of Harrison Doyle of the Stags with just over six minutes left. Doyle smacked a bending shot from 20 yards that appeared destined to tuck under the crossbar, but Thayer dove at full extension and just tipped it over the bar. He then added another save on Doyle on the ensuing corner kick, and preserved the clean sheet with a solid save on a 15-yard shot from Nathaniel Anderson.
Munzer had the defensive save early and also came back into the game after suffering a second-half injury and was clearly hobbled. "When you have two junior captains, it can be difficult in even the best of times," said Swartz. "Erik and Robbie Hull are working really hard and providing leadership, and it shows a lot that Erik wanted to be out on the field to finish the game off, even though he wasn't at 100 percent."
The win also represented an impressive turnaround for the Sagehens, who lost their SCIAC opener 6-0 to Redlands last Wednesday, but have since come back with 2-0 wins over La Verne and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
"We still have a long way to go," said Swartz. "We have two this weekend we'd like to get, and there are still 11 more to go in the league. Last year, we struggled a bit and started playing better late, so it is great for us to be able to have some success early on this year and feel rewarded for our resilience."
The Sagehens will next be in action for a non-league game against Cal Tech on Saturday, before returning home for a non-league game on Sunday against Hendrix at 4 p.m.