Last Wednesday featured the return of soccer forward Tod Kawada (sophomore), who missed the first six games of the season due to an ankle sprain and knee injury.
Kawada had one goal and one assist against La Verne. The scored the game-winner in the 58th minute at Jack Kemp Stadium, continuing the Tigers’ current undefeated streak.
The young forward, who was selected First Team All-SCIAC and SCIAC Newcomer of the Year last season, is looking to adjust back into the lineup and get into better shape for the rest of the season.
“My injury is definitely getting better, [so] now I just need to get my fitness back,” Kawada said via email. “The thing about our team is we have so much depth. Any player on the team can make the same impact as the man before him, so I don’t think there were any problems during my absence.”
Kawada has a particularly impressive history against La Verne, most notably last season when he scored a hat trick in less than a minute, culminating in four goals and one assist that game. He attributes his success against La Verne to both luck and his teammates’ willingness to help.
“Every team in SCIAC is a tough opponent, and it’s always difficult to score,” Kawada said via email. “I think I have been lucky enough to score against La Verne in the past games because my team has supplied me with great opportunities to score, and I hope I can perform just as well against other teams too.”
Despite Kawada’s absence, the Tigers have been able to maintain an undefeated record of 6-0-1 (3-0-1 SCIAC) to begin the season. That success, according to Kawada, is largely due to a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.
“I think our success comes from our discipline. We attack and defend together, and we never stop running,” Kawada said via email. “As long as we keep playing at this high standard, we have what it takes to beat any team.”
The Tigers remained undefeated after Monday night’s 0-0 draw against CMS, but Kawada suffered a setback with his ankle.
On Friday, Claire Strohm (sophomore), last year’s leading hitter for the Occidental volleyball team, led the Tigers to a 3-1 victory over Redlands. Across four sets, she totaled 22 kills, 21 digs and three service aces. Strohm continued her attacking performance Saturday by putting up 15 kills and 19 digs across five sets at Rush Gymnasium, although the Tigers ultimately fell short to Pomona-Pitzer after the Sagehens managed to surge back in the fifth set.
Strohm attributed her personal successes to her teammates.
“There is no way I would [have been] able to get any kills without the defensive players digging or passing a great ball, the setters making a smart set and the other hitters pulling the block away,” Strohm said via email. “I think my individual performance this weekend is a result of a lot of long practices to ensure strong connections and support from the whole team.”
With the close loss to Pomona-Pitzer, the women’s volleyball team has fallen to 2-4, although Strohm is impressed with the Tigers’ resilience and is excited about the team’s direction and future.
“We have had multiple [first-years] on the team really step up and have amazing performances, along with our upperclassmen who have set such great examples for everyone,” she said via email. “Although we would have liked to beat Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday, I could not be more proud of the team and how we fought.”
As the season progresses, Strohm said she hopes the team will be able to improve further.
“This year a lot of goals revolve around playing as a unit, setting the pace of the game, and focusing on our side of the court,” Strohm said via email. “I think that as long as we keep improving on our goals, our performance can only go up.”
The Tigers will play La Verne next Friday as they look to bounce back from their Pomona-Pitzer loss.