Author: Ryan Graff|Alex Nieves
From Friday night’s Athletics parade and Hall of Fame induction ceremony to the highly anticipated Tigers football game on Saturday, students, family, faculty and alumni were able to join together in celebrating everything that Occidental stands for during this weekend’s homecoming festivities.
Homecoming action began earlier than usual this year, commencing with a car parade for the various varsity teams to display their school pride. Of the squads that participated, the swimming and diving teams impressed the judges most, taking home first place in the event.
Friday evening was also filled with memories for members of the Athletics Department, as they honored legends past and present at the second annual Hall of Fame dinner ceremony. Eight inductees — Alphonzo Bell 1895, J. Percy Hagerman 1906, Fred Thompson 1910, Cliff Argue ’24, Grant Dunlap ’46, Jim Mora ’57, Jean Marie (Sanders) Szakovits ’84 and Jacqui (Dent) Ivey ’92 — joined the elite company of athletes enshrined in the newly founded hall.
Paul Finchamp ’80, the college’s Tiger Club President and two-time football All-American, served as the master of ceremonies while the athletes’ families and friends shared stories about their respective careers and recollections of their time spent donning the black and orange. The banner ceremony included a dinner reception inside Jack Kemp Stadium.
The following day featured four varsity teams in action, amounting to a quadruple-header across four sports.
Women’s soccer (3-8-2 overall, 2-7-1 SCIAC) kicked off Saturday morning, taking on conference-leader Cal Lutheran (13-3 overall, 9-1 SCIAC) on the Patterson Field pitch. Though the Regals opened the scoring in the game’s 13th minute, the Tigers kept the contest close throughout. Senior Elissa Minamishin found the back of the net for the black and orange in the 21st minute on a pass from fellow forward Julie Khil (first-year). The score was Minamishin’s sixth of the campaign (14 points) as well as Khil’s second assist (10 points).
The Tigers went into the locker room down 2-1 after a Regal goal in the 32nd minute and quickly found themselves down by two in the 48th minute. Junior defender Taryn Ng catalyzed a comeback effort for Occidental, scoring her first goal of the season (2 points) in the 63rd minute on a free kick from 30 yards out.
However, the resurgence fell short for the black and orange as time ran out, and the Regals came away with a 3-2 victory. Tiger goaltender Tayler Renshaw (senior), who has played over 3,500 minutes in her collegiate career, notched another three saves for Occidental.
It was then the men’s (2-13 overall, 1-11 SCIAC) turn in the afternoon cap of the soccer doubleheader to take on league-leader Redlands (9-3). The Tiger defense stepped up in place of the unit’s struggling offense, keeping the Bulldogs off the scoreboard during regulation and forcing the contest into double-overtime.
With just 8.5 seconds remaining in the nearly 110-minute match, Redlands defender Tom Elsea (first-year) collided with Occidental keeper Tristan Cooper (sophomore), leaving him with a wide open shot to lift his team 1-0 over the black and orange.
The setup then moved indoors in the evening for the volleyball team’s (14-7 overall, 8-3 SCIAC) competition against Whittier. The Tigers — who had previously shutout La Verne and Caltech — won their ninth consecutive set, sweeping the Poets 25-17, 25-18, 25-22.
Senior middle hitter Stephanie Gann registered a match-leading 14 kills (.500 hitting percentage) to go along with five digs, while setter Jessie Altman (senior) recorded 40 assists (699) to boost her past her total from last year’s campaign (674). Senior libero Madyson Cassidy led the way on defense with a game-high 24 digs, and outside hitter Dana Michels (sophomore) added to her team-leading kills count with nine to go along with her 13 digs.
Homecoming weekend culminated with Saturday night’s main event, the Tigers’ football (2-3 overall, 1-2 SCIAC) game against the undefeated Chapman Panthers (5-0 overall, 3-0 SCIAC). The team drew the largest crowd of the season, with 3,083 fans in attendance.
Occidental came into the contest against a Chapman team that was averaging nearly 58 points per game and held the Panthers to their lowest score of the campaign despite taking a 35-16 loss.
“It’s not about putting up points, it’s just doing the things you need to do to win the game,” Chapman head coach Bob Owens said. “It’s hard enough just to win the football game; you’re lucky if you can put up points or have a lot of yards. Our guys did a great job; Occidental did a great job. They played a good, hard, tough football game.”
Juniors Teran Mawhinney and Ross Fiegener provided the toughness for Occidental, leading the way for the Tiger defense with 11.5 and seven tackles, respectively. Both players are in the top five in the SCIAC for tackles per game.
Sophomore running back Kwame Do served as the spark plug for the black and orange offense, rushing for a career-high for yards for the second consecutive week with 176 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
Do now leads the SCIAC in both rushing yards per contest (120.6) and touchdowns (6).
First-year quarterback Bryan Scott was under center again for the Tigers in place of the injured Tommy Edwards (senior). Scott completed 17 of 33 passes for 173 yards and one interception. His best look at a touchdown pass came in the early going when he hooked up with slot receiver Cordell Harris (first-year) on a long catch and run that Harris fumbled off the pylon for a Chapman touchback.
“Our offensive line did an unbelievable job run blocking and pass blocking,” Scott said. “It just comes down to [the fact that] we didn’t make enough plays; I put that on myself. Overall, it was good a game; Chapman’s a great team. I’m proud of our guys; we fought really hard.”
Turnovers proved costly for Occidental yet again, as the Panthers’ offense was able to capitalize on three Tiger turnovers that included Harris’ fumble, a muffed punt and a tipped pass that led to the lone Scott interception.
Despite several positives for the black and orange, the squad was unable to overcome the punishing Panther ground game and surrendered the game by nearly 20 points.
“I thought we played great defense in the first half, [we] kind of took them out of what they wanted to do,” Occidental head coach Doug Semones said. “The difference was the turnovers. We turned it over three times in the first half…taking care of the football is always a big deal.”
The football team returns to Jack Kemp Stadium this Saturday to host Cal Lutheran (2-3 overall, 2-1 SCIAC) at 7 p.m.
Though the four Tiger athletic teams in action on homecoming Saturday combined for a pedestrian 1-3 record, the large turnout and overall spirit was encouraging to the Athletics Department on the whole.
The four games along with the water polo alumni game and the alumni swim meet, the aquatics silent auction and the golf fundraiser made for a successful homecoming weekend.
“It was awesome to have everybody out and the students’ support, and the faculty and have the alumni here this weekend for the Hall of Fame and the golf tournament and people all over,” Semones said. “So, it was great.”
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