Author: Christian Morales
Those close to the Occidental women’s soccer team (5-10-2 overall, 4-9-1 SCIAC) know two things to be true. The first is that any given contest will come down to the wire, and the second is that Julie Khil (first-year), though a newcomer, will make a veteran play to keep the Tigers within reach.
But the SCIAC No. 3 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) were not going to let a Khil equalizer in the 60th minute of last Wednesday’s match allow the black and orange to come out victorious, scoring less than 10 minutes later and spoiling Occidental’s Senior Night, 2-1.
Before kickoff, Occidental honored goalie Tayler Renshaw and forward Elissa Minamishin, who were playing in their final home match.
But the Athenas got a clean look at the net just two minutes into the game, as CMS midfielder Lauren Phillips (senior) scored an unassisted break-away goal past a diving Renshaw.
However, the Tigers defense buckled down and would only allow two more shots on goal to take the 1-0 deficit into halftime.
Occidental’s offense captured momentum out of the locker room and Khil came through in the 60th minute. The rookie scored off her left foot after receiving a Minamishin pass at the top of the box and fitting it upper-right 90 past CMS goalkeeper Hannah Dunham (senior).
The score marked Khil’s sixth goal of the season (14 points) and Minamishin’s third assist (12 points).
But the Athenas would not allow the black and orange to further capitalize on the momentum, breaking the deadlock in the 68th minute off an Isabel Lester (junior) goal on a cross from Laura Hayward (sophomore).
Though the teams tied with eight shots on goal apiece, CMS’ shooting percentage was much higher, with two of their three shots on goal sneaking past Renshaw.
Despite the loss, Occidental head coach Colm McFeely praised his players for their hard-fought effort throughout the campaign, which included seven overtime games.
“From an attitude and work ethic point of view and given the long season, they’ve just been tremendous,” he said.
But the Tiger women were not going to let Minamishin and Renshaw cap their respective careers without one final victory.
The black and orange traveled to Redlands on Saturday and gritted out another close match-up, defeating the Bulldogs 2-1.
Khil came through for the Tigers again, opening the scoring in the 17th minute off a Michaela Tsuha (sophomore) cross. Fellow first-year Kylie Takafuji buried the unassisted game-winner into the bottom right corner in the 84th minute to signify the passing of the torch to future Occidental teams.
“There’s a bright future ahead and I couldn’t ask for a better team to play with,” Renshaw said.
As for the two seniors, Minamishin finished her collegiate career with 27 goals and Renshaw — who places in the school’s top-three of all-time in minutes played by a goalie — registered a career .664 save percentage.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year and actually a better all four years here at Oxy,” Minamishin said.
While he remains excited about the future, McFeely paid homage to his lone two seniors from the 2013 campaign.
“Both of them are examples of what we’d like others to learn from and take from, and they’ve left marks that are more than just one game,” he said.
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