Women’s Soccer Ends Season in Stride at SCIAC Tournament

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Author: Emily Phillips

Leaving their hearts on the field, the women’s soccer team finished its hard-fought 2009 season with a 1-0 loss to rival Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Athenas in the championship game of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Tournament.

After a rough start, the women’s soccer team quickly turned its season around with several key victories against California Lutheran University and Pomona-Pitzer, before playing their final home game against CMS.

“We made the collective decision as a team that we were going to play for one another and make it to playoffs,” mid-fielder Elise Devereux (senior) said.

While the outcome was not what they had hoped for on Senior Night, it was a very meaningful game for the team nonetheless, as the four seniors played on Tiger turf for the last time in their careers.

“I don’t really know how to explain it,” Devereux said. “I could really feel the support of everyone that helped me these past years. It was especially nice to have my parents there.”

Co-Captain Nicole Findlay (senior) shares her sentiment. “There was a lot of family and friend support,” she said. “It was definitely a bittersweet game.”

The Tigers earned a No. 3 seed in conference, sending them to the SCIAC Tournament to face No. 2 Redlands in the semi-finals. While the team lost to the Bulldogs both times they met in regular season play, the Tigers fought with more energy and heart than they had all season to move on to the championship game.

Occidental opened with an early 1-0 lead after a stunning header into the goal by co-captain Season Falkler-Rodriguez (junior) off of a well-placed corner kick from defender Liz Martin (sophomore) in the first four minutes of play.

After a second goal in the 34th minute by explosive forward Lei Song (first-year) and a series of strong defensive plays, putting a stop to 11 second-half Bulldog shots, the Tigers claimed their 2-0 victory.

“[The team gave] an outstanding performance against Redlands in the semi-final,” Head Coach Colm McFeely said.

The upset earned the Tigers a place in the SCIAC Tournament championship game for the second time in three years, and only the second time in history.

“We walked on the field expecting to play a hard game against a good team . . . To get to the final was a surprise, but there’s no question we earned that game,” goal keeper Robin Feldman (junior) said.

The Tigers faced the No. 1 ranking Athenas in the SCIAC Tournament championship game on Nov. 7, and after a long battle with many opportunities to score, they were unable to put the ball in the back of the net.

Despite their effort, the Tigers fell to the CMS Athenas 1-0, marking an emotional end to a roller coaster season and the last time seniors Devereux, Findlay, Marci Kang, and Moe Kishida would set foot off the field as Occidental Tigers.

Findlay remarked that the Tigers showed extraordinary effort in post-season play. “Everyone stepped up . . . you could tell how much we wanted it,” she said. “I still don’t think it has really set in yet that I won’t be coming back to play next season. I am going to miss it a lot.”

Findlay and Feldman both expressed that the championship game could have gone either way, but it was not meant to be for the Tigers this time around.

The team faced a number of season-ending injuries as well as other injuries throughout the season, and they are very proud of their success despite these setbacks.

“In two months we became a remarkable team, capable of remarkable things,” Feldman said.

The coaching staff was equally pleased with the team this season. “I am very delighted and very proud of the team and they way they performed,” McFeely said.

“The girls took ownership of their team and through both the hairy and the happy moments, played for each other, played hard and proved to themselves how good a team they really are,” said Assistant Coach Megan MacDonald ’06.

Devereux and Findlay both encourage younger players on the team to cherish each moment that they are student athletes and to recognize that it is a unique opportunity that they can only experience once in their lifetimes.

“Enjoy it,” Findlay said. “The season is really short and four years go by so fast . . . it’s over before you know it.”

The Tigers finished the 2009 season with a SCIAC record of 7-5 and an overall record of 10-7.

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