CLAREMONT, Calif. – In an intense match that went back and forth between the two sides, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's soccer program came out celebrating after senior Laynee Laube (CMC) scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat Cal Lutheran 3-2. A trip to the SCIAC final was not going to come easy, and the Athenas were well-aware after watching SCIAC conference leader Pomona-Pitzer fall to Chapman on penalties before their match. With both teams worn down by the long season, the match was a battle of wills from start to finish. Making the right adjustments to turn the momentum whenever the Regals controlled possession, the Athenas managed to respond whenever the tides turned against them, thanks to goals from freshman Rhiann Holman (CMC), sophomore Remi Edwards (CMC), and Laube.
"What wasn't working for us was when we were playing a lot of kickball. When we were able to get (the ball) down in the ground, that's our game," said Laube. "When we got in on the ground, we were knocking the ball and playing the one-two touch. That's how we got it all together."
Nina Winsick and Sarah Tadeusiak scored for the Regals, while the goalie Coral Hasley made two saves and several tremendous blocks. Senior Kelly McConnell had two saves as well, and made a key block in the second half to keep the team afloat.
The Athenas appeared to have control at the start of the match, combining passes on the attack and creating chances in the box early in the game. However, in the 18th minute, the Athenas were caught sleeping after forcing a ball out of bounds close to their territory. Maddy Griess heaved a long throw-in to the Athenas' box and Winsick lept over her defender to bounce a header past McConnell to give the Regals an early lead.
Two minutes later on Laube's corner kick, senior Amy Johnson (CMC) read the bounce and poked a short pass to Holman who was standing in the box. The freshman turned around and launched a rocket into the back of the net to tie the game.
Sophomore Megan Lo (CMC) almost retook the lead in the 42nd minute when sophomore Sarah Malott (CMC) found her with a long pass into the box. Standing one-on-one against the keeper, Lo could not convert as her attempt was blocked by the lunging Coral Hasley.
Towards the 44th minute, senior Emily Cassell (CMC) made a long pass to junior Margaret Loncki (CMC) towards the edge of the box. Loncki missed her header pass, but quickly turned as the ball bounced on the ground. Seeing the net, Loncki attempted a shot, but it deflected off a defender and into Edwards' feet. The sophomore took a quick hard shot and doubled the lead.
Refusing to be complacent with their lead, the Athenas fired all cylinders in the second half and tried to put the game away. Cal Lutheran had the same idea and pushed players forward on the offensive end, and eventually won out. In the 66th minute, the Regals packed their players in the Athenas' box on a corner kick, despite leaving themselves vulnerable to a counterattack. However, their gamble paid off as Riley Martin found Tadeusiak for a header in tight space to tie the game.
Afterwards, the two teams appeared to run on fumes, taking their chances on long shots and quickly retreating back on defense to prevent any costly goals until overtime.
In overtime, the Athenas found new life and started making several quality runs at the Regals' box. Just four minutes in, Laube ran the ball from the left wing to the left side of the box and delivered a curling shot. Coral Hasley misread the ball as a cross and stepped towards the ball. However, she realized her mistake and was too slow to get back in position as the ball went over her head and dropped into the net.
"I knew the minutes were ticking down and we didn't want to go to a second overtime," said Laube on her game-winner. "So I had it in the perimeter and decided to try for it, and it ended up going in. If it didn't go in, I was hoping for a rebound because I knew we were crashing (the box). I was hoping someone would knock it in."
The Athenas will host Chapman (9-8-2, 6-7-2) in the SCIAC final on Saturday, November 5 at Pritzlaff Field with the time to be announced. CMS has defeated Chapman in both their meetings during the regular season, beating them 5-1 in their first matchup and 4-3 in the second meeting. Chapman defeated Pomona-Pitzer in a stunning 1-0 upset on penalties and will look to give the Athenas a tough time. The winner of the SCIAC final will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.
For ticketing and general tournament information, please visit the SCIAC Tournament page.
By Young Kim
Sports Information Assistant