Claremont, Calif. - Freshman forward Lawrence McDonald (Oakland, Calif.) scored in the 13th minute and the Sagehen defense held the rest of the way as the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team earned a 1-0 win over Whittier in a SCIAC game on Monday afternoon.
The win improves the Sagehens to 7-5 on the season and 6-2 in the SCIAC, after its five-game conference win streak was snapped on Saturday with a 2-0 loss to league-leading Redlands. Whittier falls to 4-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference with the loss.
Pomona-Pitzer broke into the scoring column in the 13th minute as junior midfielder Danny Nasry (Portland, Ore.) turned the corner on the right end line and got all the way inside the edge of the six-yard box. He then laid a ball back across the front of the goalmouth, where McDonald was waiting unmarked and slotted the ball into the net for his third goal of the season.
Junior goalkeeper Rollie Thayer (Shorewood, Minn. - pictured) had a key save late in the half when Sam Russell got a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box after Whittier's first shot was blocked. Russell's shot was headed inside the right post, but Thayer got his fingertips to it and pushed it wide of the post for a corner.
Matt Evans ahd a good chance for Whittier early in the second half when he got to a centering pass at the top of the 18-yard box on a counter-attack and one-timed a hard shot on goal, but he put it right at Thayer, who was able to make the routine save.
Pomona-Pitzer had two strong bids for goals in the closing minutes as Whittier pushed numbers forward. McDonald broke in alone on Whittier goalkeeper David Diaz in the 84th minute, and rather than shoot, he bent a cross to the far post for freshman forward Nathan Shekita (San Jose, Calif.), who nearly had a wide open net to shoot at, but a Whittier defender read the play and was able to get to the ball first and clear it away.
Sophomore forward Michael Ceragioli (Incline Village, Nev.) then had a one-on-one with Diaz on the left side in the 87th minute, but Diaz came off his line to block the shot. Whittier then nearly had a chance to tie in the final minute, as a loose ball bounced around in the box with the net open, but freshman defender Adam Lewis (Corvallis, Ore.) was able to get to the ball first and toe-poke it over the end line for a corner kick, which the Sagehens cleared out of trouble.
"I think we lost track of how we want to play a little bit after we scored," said head coach Bill Swartz. "We maybe lost our identity as a soccer team. But Whittier's a good team, a veteran team that's been in the playoffs, coming off a tough loss, and they came in here wanting our scalp. We bent, but didn't break, and we're very happy with the result."
Whittier finished with an 8-4 edge in shots, but Thayer was able to make six saves to get the shutout, his fifth in conference play this season. Diaz made two saves for the Poets in the loss.
"For us to be 6-2 at this point in the season would be more than I could have imagined with such a young team (six freshmen starting)," said Swartz. "But we're here, and we're going to keep going and keep demanding more out of them."
Pomona-Pitzer will next be in action when it travels to La Verne on Wednesday, before returning home Saturday for a big game with local rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 11 a.m.