As summer is coming to an end and classes are kicking into motion, Fall athletes are gearing up for an exciting season ahead of them. The Occidental previewed each of our Fall sports teams and their upcoming seasons.
Men’s Cross Country
According to runner Amir Barkan (junior), men’s cross country posted their best performance since COVID-19 in a meet Sept. 2 against Pomona-Pitzer and the University of La Verne. In the six-kilometer race, Occidental finished second with a score of 49 points behind Pomona-Pitzer’s 15 points. The University of La Verne finished in third with 70 points.
According to Barkan, off-season conditioning is vital for the success of a cross country team, and Occidental is coming off of a strong base of hard work and dedication over the summer.
According to Sam Nussbaum (first year), the team is in a pretty good place to be competitive.
“We’re trying to get back on the podium at SCIAC (the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference meet),” Nussbaum said.
According to the pre-season SCIAC poll, men’s cross country is seeded sixth out of nine teams in the conference. Barkan said that the team is looking to podium, finishing third or better, at the conference championships Oct. 28.
“We’re going to surprise some people this year,” Barkan said.
Men’s cross country’s next meet will be at the University of California, Riverside Invitational Sept. 16.
Women’s Cross Country
The women’s cross country season began Sept. 2 at the Pomona-Pitzer campus course, in a race against the University of La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer. Jenna LeNay (sophomore) and Ciara Gillen (senior) finished second and third, respectively, in the four-kilometer race to lead the Tigers. The team placed second overall with a score of 34 points, trailing Pomona-Pitzer’s 27 points and ahead of the University of La Verne’s 74 points.
At the SCIAC championships last year, the team placed fifth out of nine teams, but is slated to place third at conferences this year according to the SCIAC preseason poll. According to Gillen, the team’s goal is to match or beat the preseason ranking at the conference meet.
“We have a lot of deep talent to fall back on,” Gillen said.
Teammate Jillian Rosset (sophomore) said that last season went well.
“People have definitely gotten faster,” Rosset said.
The women’s cross country team will race next at the University of California, Riverside Invitational Sept. 16.
Men’s soccer began their season with a 1-1 tie at Biola University Aug. 24. According to the SCIAC men’s soccer pre-season poll, Occidental is projected to win the conference. Last year, the team lost to Chapman University 0-1 in the SCIAC championship game.
Oury Diane (junior) said that the team is now playing with a chip on their shoulder.
“Every game we’re playing we have something to prove,” said Diane. “Everyone is here with the same mindset and same goals.”
Teammate Paris Pappas (first year) said that the team culture is great.
“This team culture is the best I’ve ever been a part of,” Pappas said. “Everyone loves each other.”
Men’s soccer’s next match is tonight, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. against CalTech.
Coming off a challenging last season with many near wins, the women’s basketball team is eager as ever to start up their season. Paige Yasukochi (sophomore) said last year’s outcome serves as motivation.
“It lights a fire under us,” Yasukochi said. “Like we’re here, we’re ready to prove we’re not just the second-to-last place team.”
Amaia McCoy (senior) said she feels a big responsibility going into her senior season and said winning is the team’s main goal.
“We’re all on the same page of we need to win,” McCoy said. “And in order for us to win, we have to be hard on each other in practice.”
Clare Madden (senior) and Haley Jacobson (sophomore) both sport their women’s soccer jerseys as they sit to be interviewed. Their excitement is palpable.
“I am psyched,” Jacobson said. “There’s a lot of energy on this team.”
According to Madden and Jacobson, the team is welcoming 12 new first years this season, causing lineup changes and team dynamic shifts. Neither Madden nor Jacobson said that they feel these adjustments will impede the team’s success.
“We’ve got really strong people on the team, and we have the skills and abilities to make those changes in time [for SCIAC],” Madden said.
The team has already clinched two wins and a draw during their pre-season matches. Both players emphasize the importance of spectator support.
“We want to thank the people [who] have been coming and [who] have been supporting us,” Jacobson said. “Keep it up.”
Women’s soccer’s next match is this afternoon, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m., against CalTech.
Beginning the season with two wins and a single loss at the Pacific Coast Classic tournament, the women’s volleyball team looks strong. Ariana Carranza (sophomore) and Katelyn Cajigas (first year) beam wide smiles as they each speak about the impending season.
“I’m feeling really good and confident about the season,” Carranza said. “Everyone’s very athletic and fit and just ready to learn more.”
The players said they are looking forward to playing UC Santa Cruz this Wednesday at home, and Carranza said fan support is integral to the team’s success.
“It’s so helpful,” Carranza said.
In terms of their goals for the season, Carranza and Cajigas both said trust is the team’s priority.
“That’s a big thing that we’re working on,” Cajigas said. “Everyone doing their job and trusting that the rest of the team will do theirs.”
Men’s Water Polo
Men’s water polo is looking to top the conference standings after finishing second last season. Jake Eulenhoefer (first year) said he is confident the team can achieve even more and finish first.
“We’re looking to win the national championship this year,” Eulenhoefer said.
The team has no seniors playing in this upcoming season, but Eulenhoefer said he sees no drawback in that.
“I believe in the heart of our team to persevere even though we don’t have any seniors on our team,” Eulenhoeffer said. “We know the sport enough that I say we can outplay every other team.”
Athletic Director Shanda Ness and Assistant Athletic Director Anahit Aladzhanyan said they are excited about the start of the fall seasons and encourage the Occidental community to come support the Tigers. Last week, the team won 20-9 in an exciting game against the University of La Verne Sept. 2. Eulenhoefer said he attributes the team’s success to their unity.
“When we’re playing a game, we have to play as one unit together and I feel like we do,” Eulenhoefer said.
Contact Gus Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ariana McCaw at email@example.com