By Michelle Gardner
REDLANDS – The first two times the women’s soccer teams from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and the University of Redlands squared off, one goal made the difference. Each team won on its home field. So no one could be surprised that was the difference in the rubber match.
It was Athenas sophomore Laura Hagen chipping a shot in from 20 yards out 20 minutes into the second half to give the third-seeded CMS squad a 1-0 win over the top-seeded Bulldogs in the SCIAC Championship at Farquhar Field Saturday night. The win sends CMS (11-8-1) into the playoffs as the conference representative.
Redlands (14-5-1), which topped the conference in the regular season, will have to wait and see if it gets an at-large bid.
The Bulldogs had a 21-10 edge in shots, many of those coming in the last 10 minutes in which they dominated play but nothing got past keeper Camila Friedman-Gerlicz.
“I think I’ve aged 10 years in the last 10 minutes,” CMS coach Keri Sanchez said. “They’re a great team and we knew it was going to be a hard-fought battle. It was a relief to score the first goal but we knew they were going to battle.”
The Bulldogs had not allowed a goal since a 1-0 double overtime loss to Pomona-Pitzer on Oct. 11. They came in with a streak of seven straight shutouts that included a 3-0 win over the University of La Verne in Wednesday’s tournament semifinal.
CMS lost four of its last five regular season games and needed a penalty kick shootout to get past Cal Lutheran 3-2 in the semifinal.
“We definitely felt like the underdog coming in,” Hagen said. “They had been playing very well and we kind of backed in. It feels good to get one when it really matters.”
Twelve minutes after the Athenas made it 1-0, the Bulldogs had a great chance. A shot by Becky Willis was knocked away by a diving Friedman-Gerlicz. The ball deflected back to Emily van den Bosch but her shot was just over the crossbar.
The Bulldogs had even better chances in the second half. A shot by Kelsey Kimmel from 25 yards out with 5:03 was wide left. A minute later Kaily Benanti dribbled toward the net but the ball she never got a good swing at the ball and it slipped off the left corner of the net.
Then in the last minute and Redlands in desperation mode a direct kick by Chelsea Hafley went right of the goal and out of bounds before a teammate could catch up to it. That proved to be the Bulldogs last chance.
Friedman-Gelicz made nine saves while Redlands counterpart Tenley Rawlings made seven.
The Division III playoff draw will be announced Monday. It will be another wait-and-see for the Bulldogs who have won the regular season two of the last three years, only to lose in the tournament.
“The SCIAC hasn’t been very lucky when it comes to getting a second team in,” Redlands coach Suzette Soboti said. “This is disappointing because we had so many good chances. We were just a little unlucky.”