‘Humble and Hungry’: Men’s soccer wins against Pomona-Pitzer

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Occidental men's soccer team practices in Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 22, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

The Occidental men’s soccer team defeated Pomona-Pitzer 1-0 Sept.17. While no points were scored in the first half, Jake Foster (senior) managed to score a win for the Tigers with Evan Karp (junior) assisting. Occidental outshot Pomona-Pitzer 12-9. Other standout players included Vicente Navarro (first year) and Owen Carter (first year).

This was Occidental’s first win against Pomona-Pitzer in several years. According to assistant coach Brian Wright, this game meant more than just a win.

“We have not actually won there since 2015, so it’s getting the monkey off our back in terms of winning,” Wright said. “The last two seasons we have started off a little slow so starting off on the right foot, [is] always important, specifically at the start of the SCIAC conference.”

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Occidental men’s soccer team practices in Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 22, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

Head coach Rod Lafaurie said that he believes gradual improvements during practice were a key component of the win.

“We prepare well every day, and I can’t say that we did everything perfectly,” Lafaurie said. “Besides, perfection isn’t the goal anyway, but the skills of continual improvement are key.”

Wright said that the combined effort and hard work of all team members is one of the reasons the team was able to defeat Pomona.

“The team, the intensity and making sure all the team members are working hard, whether they are playing the whole game, [or] 10 minutes, I think that that’s always an important piece … making sure they are working as a unit, individually and as a team,” Wright said.

According to Jazz Henry (senior), a defensive/holding midfield player, the atmosphere after a winning game is a positive and fun environment.

“Once the game starts, I feel like the game goes by so fast, and so everyone’s just locked in,” Henry said. “After the game, when we win, it’s always super positive. We have this chant that we do where we’re all singing in the locker room after wins and a couple of traditions like for the player who played the best game and other stuff like that which make it pretty fun.”

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A member of Occidental’s men’s soccer team, Jazz Henry (senior), stands in a huddle with his teammates at a practice at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. Sept. 22, 2022. Angela Guglielmino/The Occidental

Moving forward, Wright and Lafaurie said they hope to continue improving both mentally and physically throughout the season. Wright said the team focuses on staying humble and challenging themselves to progress no matter the outcome of the game.

“Each day we have to get better, even if we continue to win every game, we still have to get better,” Lafaurie said. “Beating any one opponent isn’t the end goal, although it’s the daily goal when we have that game against them. But the reality is that we have to concentrate on honing our craft, and it’s easier to keep momentum going when you remain humble and hungry and keep working every day to improve, and we will continue to do that.”

According to Henry, the camaraderie of the soccer team has been essential to his Occidental experience.

“[I’ve] been through a lot with those guys, they know me better than anyone else on this campus really knows me and that’s how I feel about my teammates,” Henry said. “This team really means the world to me. I couldn’t really imagine playing anywhere else.”

Men’s soccer will play their next game against CalTech Sept. 28 at Occidental.

Contact Mary Jones at mjones3@oxy.edu.