Occidental women’s soccer on the cusp of playoffs

Ashley Rodarte at Jack Kemp Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Willie Siau

After a competitive season, Occidental’s women’s soccer team is in the middle of a tense playoff battle. With two matches left to play, Occidental trails University of La Verne, Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier College by four points and needs to surpass one of these as the top four teams in the conference progress to the post season. The Occidental team is also tied on points with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who they played in a tense 1–1 draw on Oct. 21 at Jack Kemp Stadium.

In a season that has been packed full of close matches (only two conference matches have been decided by more than one goal) the women’s soccer team now will need other team’s results to go their way if they are to reach the playoffs. While the team is excited to still have the opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, both the players and coaches agree that inconsistent play is the reason they are not in a stronger position.

Ashley Rodarte at Jack Kemp Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Willie Siau

Head coach Colm McFeely said that while the team turned in a number of impressive performances over the course of the season, too often the team missed key opportunities to rake up important wins.

“[We] could have added a few more points to our current tally,” McFeely said.

One of the team’s co-captains, Molly Callans (senior), echoed McFeely’s sentiment that while ultimately the team is happy to still have something to play for, there have been some missed opportunities along the way that she hopes will not hurt the team’s chances.

“I think there have been a few games that we would have liked to have come out with a win that we didn’t,” Callans said.

The team now looks on to the last two games of the season and will try to clamber up into a top-four position, after a 2–1 defeat to Cal Lutheran University Oct. 18 resulted in them giving up the fourth spot. While the final standings are out of their hands to a degree, as Occidental will need one of the three teams above them to drop points, McFeely emphasized that the team is ready to do their part.

“We’re right there and it’s a great opportunity over the final … games to really get after this challenge and make the post-season tournament,” McFeely said.

Savana Gonzalez chases a long pass at Jack Kemp Stadium in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.

The Tigers have been spurred on by some outstanding individual performances and both Callans and McFeely were quick to highlight Robin Waymouth (sophomore) as one of this season’s stars.

“She is a really inspirational player that we can all learn a lot from and she really picks up the energy for our team a lot,” Callans said.

Waymouth’s sturdy defensive performances have helped the team attain six clean sheets (not conceding a goal during a match). She, however, was quick to deflect praise onto other members of the team.

“We are lucky to have two amazing keepers. Goalie Sydney Tomlinson (junior) has been a standout performer this season, making crucial saves and motivating the team from the back,” Waymouth said.

The bottom line is the team still has a chance of making the playoffs, a prospect that is exciting to both coaching staff and players.

“I believe in the team and our ability to make playoffs. We have what it takes, we just need to get the results,” Waymouth said.

McFeely, who has seen many playoff races having been head coach of the women’s soccer team since 2002, had a few final pointers for his side as he aims to lead them into postseason play.

“Being physically and mentally at our best in each upcoming game, now is the time for our leaders to drive us forward and make a difference,” McFeely said.

The women’s soccer team plays its next match against Chapman University 7 p.m., Oct. 25, at Jack Kemp stadium.