CMC75 Moments: 2006 Women's Soccer Wins Wild 18-Round PK Shootout Over Sagehens
As part of the buildup to the 75th Anniversary celebration for Claremont McKenna College (visit CMC's 75th Anniversary Countdown Page to learn more), we are reliving many of the great moments from CMS athletic department history over the 75-day countdown from April 17 to July 1. If you were a part of this great moment and would like to add to the memories, or if you would like to submit your memories of your own favorite CMS Athletics moment, fill out the form on our main 75th Anniversary page.
Great Moments in 75 Years of Athletics
2006 Women's Soccer: CMS Defeats Pomona-Pitzer in 15-14 Shootout
The SCIAC changed its format for most team sports in 2006-07, introducing a postseason tournament to determine the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. The first-ever SCIAC women's soccer tournament produced what might be the most dramatic game in league history to this day. The third-seeded Athenas met second-seeded Pomona-Pitzer in one of two semifinal games after the two neighbors split 2-1 wins during the regular season. The rubber match was tied at 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes, with Ashley Green scoring the CMS goal, and the score stayed 1-1 through two overtimes.
That led to the first-ever SCIAC Tournament penalty kick shootout, which consists of five shooters for each team. If the shootout is still tied after each team has taken five kicks (such as this one, when it was tied 4-4), it goes to a one-round sudden death. Usually one or two more rounds will determine the winner, but this one kept going and going and going.
The first round of sudden death saw Hillary Tribbs, who only moved to goalie during the season due to injuries, make a big save for CMS, but Allison Hutchings hit the post, so it went to a seventh round. Kicking second, Sarah Blavet converted a must make for CMS, and then Nicole Esclamado did the same in the eighth. Both teams were unsuccessful in the ninth round, and then Amanda Drasny tied it for CMS in the tenth. The Athenas then went back to the original five shooters for rounds 11-15 and all five (Green, Nicole Sady-Kennedy, Brittney Watson, Alana MacWhorter, Carrie Culver) answered Pomona-Pitzer makes with the season riding on each one. Allison Hutchings, who had a world of pressure on her shoulders after her potential winner hit the post in round six, 10 rounds prior, came through in her second attempt to tie it 13-13, and Blavet then made her second to tie it 14-14.
After a Sagehen miss, at long last Esclamado ended the shootout with a successful conversion and a wild 15-14 victory. With little time to celebrate, CMS added a 2-1 win over top-seeded Redlands the next day to earn the NCAA bid, as Megan Kum scored the second-half game-winner over the keeper's head, just 10 minutes after Esclamado had tied it on a corner kick taken by Watson. Culver (19 starts on defense) was a first-team All-West Region selection, while Esclamado (10 goals, 5 assists) and Kum (9 goals, 1 assist) were on the second team and Watson (2 goals, 2 assists) was first-team All-SCIAC.
Even closing my eyes now to remember I can feel the sense of anxiety we had that night. It was a long game and at this point we were running on adrenaline and fumes. Every PK, I remember holding my breath and burying my face into whoever was standing next to me because I was so scared to watch. When we did finally win, the sense of relief, excitement and euphoria was overwhelming. It felt like we had just won the Super Bowl.
The fact that this was against Pomona-Pitzer made the win even sweeter. Also, just having so many fans and family come to support us was awesome. I believe our classmates were bused in, and they were such another motivator (and at times great sideline entertainment) to win that game. To this day that is probably the biggest fan base I had, and obviously ever will have.
This was obviously my favorite season. What you might not have known from just that one game was just the battle we had that season. We started with losing Mila (goalkeeper Camila Friedman-Gerlicz) at the start of the season to a torn ACL (but she was the best bench cheerleader) and really having no back-up goalie. I think we all thought we were doomed. But overall the bond of our team that year was just magical. We really were there for each other on and off the field and I think it showed. We were not the most skilled team in the league, but I genuinely believe the bond we had and willingness to die for each other is what ultimately led us to succeed that year.
As a highly competitive player, I was gutted to be sidelined due to injury prior to the season. When I had the opportunity to get back on the field, albeit in goal, I literally jumped at the opportunity. It was a great vote of confidence from Keri (Head Coach Keri Sanchez) and the team to be trusted to learn and start in a new position. I appreciated the opportunity to contribute to this amazing group of women. I also greatly loved the coaching from Mike Charles and the helpful insights and tips from Mila.
Keri asked the team to shoot second to take some of the pressure off me and put it on their shoulders, and I am thankful they agreed to it. I remember Mike telling me that my only job was to save one of the first five PKs and commit to each dive. I was super proud that I legitimately saved one of the first five shots. I also remember there were a few long pauses where they had to look up the rules for the conference as far as what to do since we were still tied after the first 5 and 10 shooters.
Another fond memory was that after the game Keri said it would have been over in 11 if the keepers had been allowed to shoot instead of stopping after the ten field players. That may have been true, or she may have been flattering me. Either way, it made me feel awesome, so it worked.
The Athenas will always have a special place in my heart and my life. This team has given me some of my best friends and best soccer memories ever. Our seniors were extraordinary leaders who led by example and kept us fired up throughout the match. Carrie (Culver), whose voice was so strong and reassuring from the defensive line, was inspirational and confidence-building to me.
The shootout was probably one of the most nerve wracking experiences of my life but the fact that we all converted when we needed to was incredible. The adrenaline and emotional high afterwards was just wild and I remember being worried about whether the team would have anything left the next day (we did!).
Mudd was hard (duh) and the team provided a community outside that bubble. To have such success was affirming of the amount of time and effort I put into the team (and "took away" from my time studying at Mudd). I also remember we had a ton of fans, including students, parents, alumni, and professors, that came out to support us, which was a lot of fun and really neat to have folks congratulating us on campus after that weekend.
2006 Women's Soccer Roster
Head Coach: Keri Sanchez
Assistant Coaches: Matt Janusz, Mike Charles
Laurel Back (Sr., F, CMC)
Sarah Blavet (So., M, CMC) - pictured
Erin Chamberlain (So., D, CMC)
Carrie Culver (Sr., D, CMC)
Shannon Dockham (Fr., D, Scripps)
Amanda Drasny (So., D, Scripps)
Nicole Esclamado (Sr., F, HMC)
Camila Friedman-Gerlicz (Fr., GK, CMC)
Courtney Funk (Fr., D, Scripps)
Giselle Galanto (Fr., F, CMC)
Ashley Green (So., M, CMC)
Allison Hutchings (Sr., M, HMC)
Francesca Ioffreda (Fr., M, CMC)
Kate Jarvis (Jr., F, Scripps)
Erica Jones (Fr., GK, Scripps)
Megan Kum (Jr., F, Scripps)
Kim Lenahan (Fr., GK, CMC)
Alana MacWhorter (Fr., D, Scripps)
Heather Marra (So., F, CMC)
Rebecca Pedroza (So., M, CMC)
Roxanne Phen (Fr., M, CMC)
Kelsey Rose (Fr., D, CMC)
Nicole Sady-Kennedy (Fr., M, CMC)
Audrey Soroka (Fr., M, CMC)
Hillary Tribbs (So., GK, CMC)
Brittney Watson (So., M, CMC)