As the spring semester draws to a close, so do the sports seasons for a number of Occidental athletic teams. Another year of competition, a wealth of successes, failures, injuries, glory and heartbreak concludes. While baseball and women’s lacrosse typically garner the most attention during the spring, here are season reviews for the other teams who dedicated time and energy into representing Occidental this semester.
Occidental’s softball team made huge strides this spring following a challenging season last semester. The team’s record for the season was 13-25 and while at first glance that may not seem like a big improvement from last year’s 10-30 campaign, there has been enormous progress in terms of conference competition. The Tigers went from a 6-22 SCIAC record last season to an 11-17 record this campaign.
“We are raising the bar in every statistical category. Immensely more important, however, is that our team is extremely cohesive, committed and competitive,” head coach Ali Haehnel said.
The Tigers also took home a number of individual awards. The Tigers’ coaching staff was named best in the SCIAC, while Nyla Gatison (first year) and Alexis Funaki (sophomore) were both named First Team All-SCIAC. Cora Roberts (sophomore) was named Second Team All-SCIAC.
The women’s tennis team also progressed this year, having secured an improved conference record from last year, with one SCIAC matchup left. In a season full of tough competition, men’s and women’s head coach Ghia Godfree highlighted the tense match-up against Chapman which stood at 4-4 before Lexi Banbury (sophomore) clinched the victory for Occidental.
This year’s team will retain standouts Nicole Castro (sophomore) and Samantha Farrell (junior) but will lose Hannah Cohen (senior) and Maxine Kyrgier (first year) who is transferring.
Men’s tennis bounced back following a dismal 0-18 season last year to a 4-11 record this season with playoff match-ups still to come. Godfree described how this year’s group showed tremendous conviction in a number of close victories.
The team will lose Trevor Brown (senior), who has been vital to the team’s success over the past four years, but all other players are returning. The Tigers look to spark some upsets in the upcoming playoffs before resetting next year with a strong recruiting class expected to anchor one of Occidental’s youngest teams.
Men’s golf recorded a strong season, placing fourth in the conference ahead of three nationally ranked teams. The team twice had members win the SCIAC athlete of the week award and the Tigers even recorded an all-time low scoring record against Macalester College March 18.
Head coach William Morris said the team was led by co-captain Dylan Jirsa (junior), who finished the season with the lowest aggregate total of all players in the conference, including those from defending NCAA champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS). Both Jirsa and standout Sam Miller (sophomore) will return to a roster that will only lose Colton Bares (senior), boding well for the continued success of this Tiger team.
The women’s team was hurt by injury as co-captain Samantha Rocha (sophomore) was unable to compete in the last two SCIAC events. However, the team showed promise with co-captain Katy Uchiyama (sophomore) playing very well as she led the way for the upstart Tigers.
While the team will have to deal with the loss of Kara Alam (senior), the women’s future is bright with five recruits already committed to play for next season.
Men’s Track and Field
The men’s track and field team came agonizingly close to claiming a SCIAC championship, falling to CMS by a score of 175.5-174. The team had a number of record-breaking performances throughout season highlighted by the men’s 4x100m team recording the fastest time in the country. Hugh Pegan also had a standout performance at the final SCIAC meet, winning four events.
Despite a number of seniors departing, including three-time all-American Jeh Johnson, the group looks to push on next year and finally claim a SCIAC championship following second place finishes each of the last two years.
Women’s Track and Field
Women’s track and field also enjoyed a successful season. Sabrina Degnan (sophomore) set a new school record with a javelin throw of 147 feet, co-captain Isabelle Dunne (junior) won her first SCIAC championship in the 400m hurdles and Delaney Nolin (senior) set a Paralympic record in the 800m to help the Tigers to a third-place finish in the SCIAC.
This team will also lose a number of graduating seniors but will be back next season with a strong team seeking to move on up the SCIAC standings.
Women’s Water Polo
The women’s water polo team had a transitional season under interim head coach Jack Stabenfeldt, who has since gone on to secure the position permanently. The squad held a respectable 7-22 record and placed 8th in the SCIAC. The team looks to reload next year after graduating seven seniors including goalkeeper Anna De Groot (senior) and leading scorer Carly Zurcher (senior). Following several tumultuous seasons, Stabenfeldt looks to restore the winning traditions of a program that was ranked number one in the country as recently as 2012.
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