Athletes of the Week

29

Megan Maher

Jeremy Bloom
Jeremy Bloom

Forward Megan Maher (sophomore) finished off a pass from Julie Khil (senior) during the women’s soccer game against Cal Lutheran Wednesday, scoring her first goal in the young season. Maher found the net again during Saturday’s game at Pomona-Pitzer on another assist from Khil.

Even though the Tigers lost both games, the forward was proud of her and her teammates’ performances.

“Anytime you can get the ball into the net is a great feeling, so to score so early on in the game was just amazing,” Maher said. “It really helped to show that we come out hard from the first whistle.”

Though the women’s soccer team started strong against Pomona-Pitzer, the team struggled during the second half, allowing the Sagehens to score three goals in 12 minutes. Occidental was unable to recover and lost 4-2. The loss dropped the Tigers to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in SCIAC play.

Maher acknowledged that this season will be difficult but noted that she is ready to improve both as an individual player and as a member of the team. She remains optimistic about the rest of the season.

“I think we’ve been playing well so far and think that some of our results haven’t shown the fight, work and skill we have had in the games,” Maher said via email. “After every game we just have to look at the things that went right and wrong in the game and use the next few practices to work out the mistakes for the next game.”

The women’s soccer team will play Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at Patterson Field.

Morgan Bennett-Smith

Jeremy Bloom
Jeremy Bloom

The men’s soccer team hit the field Saturday with full force against Caltech. Forward Morgan Bennett-Smith (junior) contributed to the Tigers’ incredible start to the game by scoring two goals during the first half, helping Occidental defeat Caltech 6-0.

After Saturday’s win, the Tigers remained undefeated, improving to 7-0-2 overall and 4-0-2 in SCIAC. As a result, the team is now ranked 21 nationally in the NCAA Division III polls.

Bennett-Smith attributes much of the Tiger’s success to the camaraderie and skill of teammates.

“Our group this year is the most talented, cohesive, hungry team this school has ever had. [We are] downright ravenous,” he said via email. “Our defense is just unreal right now: [Gabriel Barrett-Jackson], [Ryan Banard], [Michael Tonetti*], [Liam Walsh]; all those guys are absolutely killing it. Add in our lethal, unpredictable offense … it’s actually scary.”

After such an impressive start, Bennett-Smith is confident about the future success of the team and its chances of returning to the SCIAC postseason for a second consecutive year.

“I hope to see our team keep on winning into early December,” he said via email. “I’m [trying to] put a little NCAA Christmas present under my tree this year.”

To continue the team’s winning streak, Bennett-Smith plans on maintaining his competitive edge.

“I don’t dance around defenders or pull cute little moves on the ball,” he said via email. “I do what I have to do with the ball. If I don’t feel fast, the most important weapon in my offensive arsenal is gone. I didn’t really feel that fast early on — mostly because of the injuries bugging me. I feel fast now. Unfortunate news for teams like Whittier, Redlands, Pomona, Cal Lu, CMS, Caltech, Chapman [and] La Verne.”

The Tigers play at home against Redlands Saturday Oct. 3 at 11 a.m.

*Tonetti is a Weekly staff member.