Men's Soccer Opens 2014 With Two-Game Weekend

Men's Soccer Opens 2014 With Two-Game Weekend

Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team will travel to Westmont on Friday and host UC Santa Cruz on Sunday (4 p.m.) as it kicks off the 2014 season with a pair of games this weekend. 

The Sagehens are looking to bounce back from an 8-11-1 season a year ago which saw them narrowly miss a SCIAC Postseason Tournament berth. Pomona-Pitzer won the league title in 2012, a season which saw an 11-game winning streak (the longest since 1973), but several key injuries early on and a series of overtime losses derailed the team's chances at repeating. 

However, the Sagehens have a deep senior class with a wealth of experience that should help them in their quest to get back to the postseason this fall. Senior forwards Nathan Shekita and Avery Raimondo, senior midfielders Arash Mahboubi and Drew Lind, senior defender Geordie Marriner and senior goalie Nigel Brady give the Sagehens important leadership at every position on the field. 

Shekita (three goals, five assists in 2013) and Mahboubi (three goals, two assists) were both All-SCIAC selections in 2012, while Lind has Division I experience at Boston University before joining the Sagehens in 2012. Marriner has been a two-year captain from his center back position, and Brady has two solid years of experience as a regular starter in goal.

Junior defender Paul Picciano was also an All-SCIAC selection last year and will return to his center back role, while junior Mark Raftery is returning to the team after a one-year absence and could provide a big lift at an outside back position. Junior defender/midfielder Michael Cork will also likely have a key role on the field with his versatility. Junior defender Andrew Capron and junior goalie Carson Witte will be in the mix for more playing time this year as well. 

Last year's freshmen had an immediate impact and several should find themselves in key roles this season, particularly forward Voja Maric, who led the Sagehens in scoring last year with seven goals. Marvin showed flashes of being a strong creative force in the central midfield, finishing with three assists, while Chase Abelson, Felipe Galvis, Colin Malaska and Scout Pepper were all in the rotation last season. 

The incoming freshmen this season, as well as new sophomore Carlos Rodriguez Calderon will get the opportunity to fight for playing time right away. Peter Rentzepis will challenge for minutes at forward, Jake Merkle, Ethan Flor and Alex Thomas will give the Sagehens more options in the midfield, and Will Conway will look to contribute on the back four. Ben Mitchell will look to fight the two incumbents for minutes in goal. 

The Sagehens host UC Santa Cruz on Sunday at 4 p.m. after defeating them 3-1 last year. Maric had a goal and an assist in the first half five minutes apart and Mahboubi sealed the win with a goal in the final minute. The game with the Banana Slugs will be the first of four straight home games for Pomona-Pitzer, which opens SCIAC play against rival CMS at home on Sept. 10.