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CMS celebrating a tying goal late in the SCIAC semis last year
CMS celebrating a tying goal late in the SCIAC semis last year

CMS Men's Soccer Picked to Win SCIAC in 2022

CLAREMONT, Calif. - A year after its first undefeated season in SCIAC play in almost 30 years, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team is picked to win the league in 2022 in a preseason poll of the league's coaches, the conference office announced today.

The Stags were 10-0-2 in league play in 2022, its first unbeaten league slate since the 1993 team went 9-0-2. It was also the program's third straight regular season title, a stretch in which it has compiled a 31-3-4 SCIAC mark. CMS also went undefeated in the regular season against NCAA Division III competition for the first time ever, as its only regular season defeat was an overtime loss to Westmont of the NAIA in opening week. 

CMS edged out Redlands by just one point in the preseason poll (76 points to 75) after Redlands handed CMS its first Division III loss in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament finals and went on to reach the Round of 16 of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The two teams were well ahead of Chapman (59 points) in third place in the poll, with Cal Lutheran, Pomona-Pitzer, Occidental, Whittier, La Verne and Caltech rounding out the preseason picks. 

The Stags enter the new season with a new head coach after Ryan Fahey left to take the associate head coaching position at the University of Connecticut. Trevor Swartz, a former standout midfielder at Indiana, served as Fahey's assistant last year and earned the head coaching role after a national search. 

Several key players graduated last year as Swartz will have to adjust the lineup a bit, but the return of fifth-year seniors Ethan Tyng at forward and Grant Donaldson at center back will help give the team some continuity. Tyng was the SCIAC Tournament MVP in 2019 when the Stags won the championship and went on to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament, before injuries cost him most of the 2021 season following the pandemic. Donaldson, meanwhile, has been a part of one of the top defenses in the nation throughout his career, including the 2018 team that led the nation in goals against average. 

Offensively, senior Justin Blachman led the team in scoring last year with six goals and three assists, and sophomore midfielder Rafael Otero and junior forward Eric Sanchez were close behind with five goals apiece. Sophomores Walsh Kern (three goals, three assists), Tommy Brown (two goals, three assists), and Lukas Huntington (seven assists) joined Otero in having a big impact in their first seasons. Senior Jake Allmon, who has played all over the field during his career, added two goals and two assists, as did junior Liam O'Reilly

Defensively, Troy Lehenbauer is back for his senior season at defensive midfield, and Ben Pelz returns for his final season at outside back. Chase Keir also played in 14 games at center back (and had a key last minute goal in the SCIAC Semifinals against Chapman), while Salavador Leon, Jacoby Lockman, Harrison Weier and Justin Carr are returning to try to crack the starting back four. All-SCIAC goalie Eduardo DeAnda graduated, but Kevin Box started a couple of games last year and had an 0.47 goals against avearge and .917 save percentage. 

CMS will play its first six games on the road this year, starting with its opener at UC Santa Cruz on Sept. 1. The Stags will then travel to Trinity (Texas) for a tournament on Sept. 3-5 and to Willamette for a pair of games on Sept. 9-11. CMS will open league play with a big one at Redlands on Sept. 14, before its home opener against La Verne on Sept. 17.