Whittier Ends Sagehen Win Streak, Moves On To SCIAC Finals

Whittier Ends Sagehen Win Streak, Moves On To SCIAC Finals

Claremont, Calif. - The fourth-seeded Whittier Men's Soccer team broke a scoreless tie late in the first half and then scored 11 seconds into the second half as it defeated top-seeded and No. 24-ranked Pomona-Pitzer 4-1 in the SCIAC semifinals on Thursday afternoon.

The loss snaps an 11-game win streak for the Sagehens, who drop to 14-5-1 on the season. Whittier, which was also the last team to defeat Pomona-Pitzer back on Sept. 22, improves to 10-11 and moves on to the SCIAC finals on Saturday against the Redlands-CMS winner. The Sagehens, who moved into the national top 25 this week at No. 24, will await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Whittier had the better of the play in the first half, outshooting Pomona-Pitzer 9-4, and broke the scoreless draw with 8:07 left in the half. Kevin Hartsough played a free kick into the middle of the six-yard box, where it pinged around off several players before finding the feet of Joshua Dredge in the goalmouth. Dredge had no problem burying the shot from close range to give the Poets a 1-0 lead heading into the break.

Pomona-Pitzer hoped to regroup at intermission and get back into the game, but instead Whitter stunned the Sagehens by scoring right off the kickoff. The Poets advanced the ball forward, and Pomona-Pitzer was unable to get a clean clearance. The loose ball bounced to Srdan Jovanovic, who took one dribble and let fire from 25 yards out, cranking a bending shot just inside the left post to make the score 2-0 just 11 seconds into the second stanza.

Whittier the effectively put the game away midway through the second half with two goals less than three minutes apart. Francis Maxwell scored the first one at the 62:53 mark when he headed in a cross from Adolfo Santos at the far post, driving a ball into the ground from 10 yards out that took one hop and bounced into the net. Just 2:38 later, the players switched roles as Jovanovic sent a cross in that Maxwell headed towards net, and Santos was able to head the ball in at the far post to make the score 4-0 with 24:29 left.

Pomona-Pitzer used a quick strike goal of its own 16 seconds later, as sophomore Nathan Shekita (San Jose, Calif. - pictured) found the net from in close. Junior midfielder Harris Levin (Sacramento, Calif.) set the play up with a cross from the right sideline that was headed down by junior midfielder Drew Lind (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). Shekita slipped in behind his defender, and was able to one time the ball from five yards out to make the score 4-1.

The Sagehens kept some pressure on, but Whittier goalie David Diaz had a few saves late to prevent Pomona-Pitzer from creeping closer, the best of which came when sophomore defender Mark Raftrey (Palo Alto, Calif.) squeezed between two defenders and had an open 10-yarder, but Diaz dove to his right to make the save.

Whittier finished with an 18-17 edge in shots and a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks on the day. Pomona-Pitzer's 11-game win streak was the longest for the program since 1973, and its No. 24 ranking represented the latest in the year that the program has ever cracked the national rankings as an NCAA program.