Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team had the SCIAC championship and the top seed in the conference tournament all wrapped up coming into the game, but kept its foot on the throttle as it won its 11th game in a row with a 4-0 win over La Verne on Saturday.
With the win, Pomona-Pitzer concludes the regular season at 14-4-1 and 13-2-1 in the SCIAC after winning its final 11 games in a row (since a 1-1 tie with Redlands on Sept. 24), heading into its home semifinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against either Whittier or Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. La Verne closes out at 7-11-2 and 5-10-1 in the SCIAC with the loss.
Sophomore forward Avery Raimondo (Quogue, N.Y.) had a goal and two assists for the Sagehens, while junior midfielders Michael Ceragioli (Incline Village, Nev.) and junior midfielder Harris Levin (Sacramento, Calif.) each added a goal and an assist.
Pomona-Pitzer, which rested several starters to prepare for the postseason, didn't need any time to adjust to a new line-up as it jumped out to a 2-0 lead just over 16 minutes into the game. The first goal came at the 4:23 mark, as senior defender Eddie Fernandez (Napa, Calif.), who was making his first start of the year as part of Senior Day, played a long ball over the top of the La Verne defense down the right sideline (pass is pictured at right).
Ceragioli made a nifty move to beat a Leopard defender to the ball in the corner, and laid a pass across the top of the six-yard box, where sophomore forward Nathan Shekita (San Jose, Calif.) buried it inside the left post on a one-timer for his team-high sixth goal of the year.
Pomona-Pitzer doubled its lead 16:06 into the half, as Raimondo sent a low cross through the six-yard box that somehow got through a maze of players, and Ceragioli sprinted in from the weak side and buried a shot from two yards out to make the score 2-0.
Late in the half, the Sagehens sealed the victory for all intents and purposes with its third goal, as Levin played a perfect cross from near the right corner flag that carried all the way over a maze of players. Raimondo was unmarked at the far post, and took the cross off one hop and buried it into the left side of the net to make the score 3-0 with 4:32 left in the half.
Those same two players teamed up for another goal in the second half in reverse as Raimondo stole a La Verne pass in the Sagehens offensive third, broke into the box, drew out the Leopards goalkeeper, and slotted a pass to Levin at the top of the six-yard box, who had no problem finishing into the empty net to make the score 4-0 in the 55th minute, and Pomona-Pitzer was able to cruise from there.
Nigel Brady (Sacramento, Calif.) had three saves in goal to get the shutout for the Sagehens, the team's fourth in a row and eighth in its current 11-game win streak, during which time it has outscored its opponents 25-4.
In addition to Fernandez, fellow seniors Robbie Hull (Salt Lake City, Utah), Erik Munzer (Beverly Hills, Calif.), Danny Nasry (Portland, Ore.) and Rollie Thayer (Shorewood, Minn.) were honored prior to the game. Munzer, Nasry and Thayer were all held out of the line-up, to rest nagging injuries as the Sagehens prepare for the postseason. The seniors began their careers with a SCIAC title in 2009 as freshmen, and earned their second one this fall with a 1-0 win over Caltech on Wednesday.
Pomona-Pitzer will host the SCIAC semifinals on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. and would also host the finals on Saturday at 12 noon if it advances.