Ben Simon (junior) scored the lone, unassisted goal in a 1–0 victory at California Lutheran University Sept. 5. The Occidental squad greatly anticipated the matchup against the reigning SCIAC men’s soccer champions, according to Simon.
“We knew we had to come in with the same fire and intensity as last year,” Simon said. “We generated a lot of chances, we played together and played hard.”
The goal led the team to a win over Cal Lutheran and also earned Simon the distinction of SCIAC offensive player of the week. According to head coach Rod Lafaurie, Simon’s contributions to the program extend far beyond the field.
“Playing in the midfield, he’s been remarkable over the years regarding covering ground and helping teammates,” Lafaurie said. “But more importantly, Ben has been a fantastic human being who has been the very fulcrum of our team’s culture personified.”
Simon highlighted togetherness as one of the key strengths of his team, which he said is the result of team culture development from present and former players throughout the years.
“The fact that we’re always together when we do things, that there’s nobody left out, that everyone feels important and has a role is so special,” Simon said. “Whether people are playing the whole game or they’re not getting minutes yet, they play a hugely crucial role in how we function as a unit.”
Lafaurie also credited Simon with playing an integral part in developing this team culture by setting a standard of hard work and dedication to his teammates, being the first player to arrive at training and the last to leave.
“Ben has always had an immense personality, he’s always been positive, encouraging, and a team leader, even as a first year,” Lafaurie said. “He’s been amazing in serving others and in transforming his leadership.”
Teammate and defender David Paine (sophomore) said that the unique composure Simon brings to the field allows him to lead by example through his collected style of play and competitive energy.
“He’s got the best vision on the field and dictates the flow of the game,” Paine said. “He’s like a coach on the field.”
Simon said that his favorite food spot in Eagle Rock is Leo’s Tacos, and his favorite class taken at Occidental is Physics for Future Presidents taught by professor Juvenal J. Cortes.
Anna Lundquist (sophomore) shot 75, three over par, to become the lowest scorer at Victoria Links Golf Course Sept. 9. Facing Marymount California University in the first contest of the academic year, Lundquist and the Occidental team won by 20 strokes, breaking their own school scoring record set last spring.
“It really felt good to start our first match by breaking the school record,” Lundquist said. “It gives us really high hopes for not only the rest of fall season but our actual competing season in the spring.”
Lundquist was playing through illness during the first contest but said that the distraction of feeling unwell worked to her advantage by allowing her to play intuitively.
“I was swinging well going into it,” Lundquist said. “It was definitely the kind of course to shoot a low score on, and it felt nice to deliver with how I’ve been swinging.”
Head men and women’s golf coach Will Morris attested to the mental strength Lundquist displayed coming into this match.
“She is physically strong and mentally focused,” Morris said. “Her athleticism mixed with her passion and work ethic means the sky is the limit for Anna.”
The quick start to the fall season meant that pre-match training was less extensive and, according to Lundquist, the work that she and her teammates put into their game over the summer was crucial to their success.
“I worked a lot on my short-game, particularly short, four to seven foot putts, which definitely make or break your round,” Lundquist said.
Despite the desire to perform well individually, Lundquist was quick to mention the importance of positive team dynamics in earning school victories. She noted that she was able to play alongside one of her teammates during the match, which reintroduced the team element to her game.
“It was really helpful not only to not have so much pressure, but to just have fun,” Lundquist said. “That’s ultimately what we’re out here for, to joke around, to encourage, to pick each other up, that was definitely really great.”
Teammate Vivian Sun (sophomore) recognized Lundquist’s ability to enjoy the time with her fellow golfers while also staying highly focused.
“It’s crucial in golf to be level-headed,” Sun said. “She brings that kind of mentality to our team and does a good job motivating everyone else to do the same.”
Lundquist said if she could play another unconventional sport, she would play curling or badminton, and that her favorite specialty meal from the Marketplace is the candy apple bar.