Raftrey Rocket Gives Sagehens 2-1 Win Over UC Santa Cruz

Raftrey Rocket Gives Sagehens 2-1 Win Over UC Santa Cruz

Claremont, Calif. - Junior defender Mark Raftrey put a 25-yard blast into the upper right corner in the 80th minute to break a 1-1 tie and give the Pomona-Pitzer Men's Soccer team a 2-1 win over UC Santa Cruz in its home opener on Sunday evening. 

With the win, the Sagehens improve to 2-0 on the young season, after starting out the year with a 2-1 road victory over Westmont on Friday. 

The game-winning goal was set up after sophomore Colin Malaska, who had just checked into the game moments before, used his long throw-in as a weapon. UC Santa Cruz was able to clear the first one away and back out of bounds, but on the second one, the Banana Slugs cleared the ball out of the box to a waiting Raftrey.

Raftrey then chested the ball down, and took a moment to size up his angles before putting a 25-yard blast across the net and into the upper-right corner for his first goal of the season with 10:13 left in the game. Raftrey, who had been a two-year starter for Pomona-Pitzer in 2011 and 2012, missed last season due to medical reasons but returned this fall and earned his way back into the starting 11.

In addition to his game-winning goal, Raftrey also set up the first goal as he chipped a through ball to senior Nathan Shekita. After winning the 50-50 ball at the edge of the box, Shekita circled back around to the edge of the 18, and the Banana Slug defenders retreated and left him open for a moment. Shekita took advantage of the clean look and bent a shot with his right foot that curved inside the far post and into the upper-right corner from almost the same spot of the field that Raftrey would later get his game winner.

(pictured: Shekita #7 and Raftrey #14 celebrate Shekita's goal in the first half)

UC Santa Cruz pulled even eight minutes into the second half on a corner kick, as freshman goalie Ben Mitchell was able to get his hand on the ball in traffic in the goalmouth, but got unlucky as his tip hit the crossbar and came back into the field of play, where Nassim Lemseffer was able to head it in from four yards out to level the score 1-1. Mitchell later came up with a big save on a UC Santa Cruz counter as he dove to stop a one-timer from Conrad Rowling.

The Sagehens protected the one-goal lead over the final 10 minutes, with the only dangerous chance coming with just over 30 seconds left as Carlos Mezquita hit a hard shot from distance that sailed two feet over the crossbar.

Pomona-Pitzer will be back in action on Friday when it hosts Cal State San Marcos at 5 p.m.