Claremont, Calif. - Junior forward Ryan Miller (Centennial, Colo. - pictured) scored on a spectacular diving header with 2:19 left in the second overtime to give the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team a 2-1 win over Whittier on Wednesday afternoon.
The win was the seventh in a row for the Sagehens and improves their record to 10-4-1 and moves them back in first place at 9-2-1 in the SCIAC, nudging in front of Redlands temporarily before Redlands defeated CMS on Wednesday evening to improve to 9-2-2.
The Bulldogs hold a one-point lead over Pomona-Pitzer due to the extra tie, but the Sagehens have a game in hand (the two teams meet head-to-head at Redlands on Monday in a game that will likely decide the regular season title). Whittier falls to 6-10 overall and 6-6 in the SCIAC with the loss. The Poets were the last team to defeat Pomona-Pitzer, a 6-2 decision back on Sept. 22.
The game-winning goal was set up when sophomore midfielder Nathan Shekita (San Jose, Calif.) was able to get into the right edge of the penalty area and turn the corner towards the end line. He chipped a cross towards the far post, and Miller laid out at full extension to get his head to the ball at the top of the six-yard box, re-directing the ball off the left post and in for his first goal of the season.
Miller also assisted on Pomona-Pitzer's first goal of the game with 7:20 left in the first half, when he got free at the top of the box and rifled a shot that was saved by Whittier goalkeeper David Diaz. The rebound, though, came right to senior midfielder Robbie Hull (Salt Lake City, Utah), who was able to slot the ball into the empty net to make the score 1-0.
The score stayed the same until 21:01 left in regulation, when Whittier's Francis Maxwell chipped a perfect through ball over the top of the Pomona-Pitzer defense that sat down at the top of the 18-yard box. Lucas DiPinna was able to race in behind the Sagehens and get to the ball before onrushing Pomona-Pitzer goalkeeper Rollie Thayer (Shorewood, Minn.) could reach it.
The Sagehens held a 12-5 edge in shots in the first half, but Whittier held a 10-7 edge in that department in the second half, including a header from Dylan Fortin that clanged off the crossbar with the score still 1-0.
Miller actually nearly had a diving header just minutes before his winning goal, as he laid out bur couldn't quite reach a cross, while Diaz came out to challenge. Hull also nearly scored on a flick header off a long throw-in from senior defender Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.) midway through the second overtime, but Diaz dove at full extension to make the save, his eighth of the game.
The Sagehens held a 24-17 advantage in shots for the contest and a 9-2 edge in corner kicks, including 8-0 in the first half alone. Thayer had five saves to get the win in goal.
Pomona-Pitzer returns to action on Saturday when it travels to Occidental before its Monday showdown at Redlands.