Playoff Bound: Mueller's Goal Holds Up To Put Sagehens In SCIAC Tournament

Playoff Bound: Mueller's Goal Holds Up To Put Sagehens In SCIAC Tournament

La Verne, Calif. – Senior defender Claire Mueller (Lincoln, Neb.) scored late in the first half and freshman goalie Helena Epps (Santa Cruz, Calif. - pictured) had three saves for her fourth straight shutout as the Pomona-Pitzer Women's Soccer team clinched a SCIAC Tournament bid with a 1-0 win at La Verne in its regular season finale on Saturday evening.  

Pomona-Pitzer improves to 8-6-2 overall with the win, and 7-5-2 in the SCIAC. The Sagehens entered the day tied with Redlands at 6-5-2 for fourth place in the SCIAC and with the tiebreaker advantage, due to a 1-0-1 head-to-head record. Redlands defeated Whittier earlier in the day 4-0, which meant that the Sagehens went into the day needing a win to maintain its tie and secure the fourth and final seed in the conference tournament.

The Sagehens win secured the final playoff seed and they will open the SCIAC Tournament at Cal Lutheran in the semifinals on Wednesday. Pomona-Pitzer has not allowed a goal since a late tally in the 87th minute gave Cal Lutheran a 2-1 win in Thousand Oaks back on Oct. 13.

Epps was questionable to play the game due to an injury suffered in practice on Friday, but played through the pain. Ironically, the player who would have likely played in goal if Epps was unavailable was Mueller, who ended up scoring the game's only goal. Fellow freshman goalkeeper Annie Wedel (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.) was already lost for the season with an injury back on Sept. 29.

Junior forward Allie Tao (Alamo, Calif.) had several chances to stretch the lead to 2-0, but La Verne goalkeeper Delanie Pacheco came up with two huge saves against her to keep the Leopards within striking distance. La Verne had two late chances, but missed wide on both tries.

Pomona-Pitzer did not have a shutout through its first 12 games (allowing one goal 10 times and two goals to Cal Lutheran twice), but closed out the regular season with a 1-0 win over Whittier, a 0-0 tie with Occidental, a 1-0 win over Redlands and a 1-0 win over La Verne to rally back into the SCIAC Tournament.

Mueller, fellow seniors Anika Burrell (Ridgefield, Wash.) and Jordan Bryant (Pomona, Calif.) and junior Ari Sanchez (Calif.) have been a big part of the Sagehen defensive effort down the stretch in front of Epps. The defense has allowed its opponents only 112 shots in 16 regular season games (7.0 per contest).