Karla Alas-Lopez (senior), a leader of Occidental women’s soccer’s defensive line, was named SCIAC Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 30 after the team allowed only one goal in a 2–1 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Alas-Lopez said Occidental’s ability to fight through adversity helped seal the win.
“That was a game where we had to scrap,” Alas-Lopez said. “It was a sloppy win, but it was a good win because we didn’t give up. Even after being scored on in the last 20 minutes of the game, we came back and scored twice within 10 minutes.”
According to Alas-Lopez, being selected as SCIAC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in her career has focused her drive to work even harder this season.
“It’s definitely a huge honor being selected twice,” Alas-Lopez said. “I know there’s a lot of competitive athletes within the league and within my own team.”
Alas-Lopez said a drive toward self-improvement for the sake of the team is emblematic of her training.
“Working hard and trying to be better than before is something that I take pride in,” Alas-Lopez said. “Not only working hard for myself, but for the team — that’s what I do it for. I care a lot about every member of the team, and I know that we’re able to do great things just as we’ve shown in the past.”
Although Occidental lost their rematch of last year’s SCIAC championship final against Pomona-Pitzer 2–0, a game they won last year on penalty kicks, Alas-Lopez said it was her favorite game thus far.
“I just like being challenged,” Alas-Lopez said. “I think the whole team likes to have a challenge. Playing against hard teams shows what you really can do.”
According to Alas-Lopez, the loss only steeled the team’s resolve for playoffs later in the season.
“Walking away from the Pomona game, we realized that yes, we can totally go back and beat them again,” Alas-Lopez said. “We look forward to hopefully seeing them in the playoffs. That wasn’t just a one-time win at the SCIAC championship—we’re the real deal.”
Alas-Lopez said once they make the playoffs, the team is not shying away from its aim to repeat as SCIAC champions.
“To win the SCIAC championship you have to make the top four, so first our team is really intent on getting a spot in the playoffs,” Alas-Lopez said.
According to Alas-Lopez, the success of Occidental’s defense this season is the product of deep camaraderie and trust within the unit.
“It’s the work ethic and chemistry we all have,” Alas-Lopez said. “Everyone is here to support one another. If one person gets beat, you know someone else has your back.”
Alas-Lopez said her family’s support is another motivator for her in her final season at Occidental.
“My family really inspires me to work hard all the time because they support me, and they literally come to every single game at Oxy,” Alas-Lopez said. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here, so I want to repay them in any way I can.”
Alas-Lopez loves to travel, spend time with her family and coach a youth soccer team. Her pick for Springfest is Usher.
Midfielder Adrian Paredes (sophomore) is leading Occidental’s scorers this year with five goals, including three game-winners, a substantial boost from his first year campaign. One of Paredes’ most notable goals came against Lake Forest College, when a teammate accidentally cleated Paredes in the face while he put away the game-winning header.
“Sean, our right wing, had a throw-in and he launched it into the box, and I beat my man,” Paredes said. “Jasper tried to bike it, but I got there before him and tried to get it with my head, so his swing kind of got me.”
According to Paredes, that win against Lake Forest was the team’s most memorable thus far this season.
“Celebrating with our fans, clearing the bench, that was really fun,” Paredes said. “It came at a very fortunate time, because we had kind of had a rough patch before that, tying a lot of games, going into overtime. To get that win going into SCIAC play was big.”
After a four-game losing streak, Occidental seems to have regained its footing with wins over Cal Lutheran Oct. 5 and Cal Tech Oct. 9. According to Paredes, the team will look to build momentum over their next few games.
“We have a really talented group of guys right now. We’re really young, but we have one of the deepest teams in SCIAC. I think we’re on the right track, so if we can just find a way to build off this momentum, if we find ourselves in the SCIAC tournament, it’s really anyone’s to win.”
According to Paredes, his offensive output this season came as a surprise even to him.
“It’s been amazing. I honestly never thought I’d be in this position, leading goal scorer for the team, but I’m glad to see all the hard work is paying off. It also has a lot to say about my teammates and the trust they have in me to take these penalty kicks.”
According to Paredes, family — not scoring goals — is what means the most to him as a player for Occidental.
“Just being part of the family, really,” Paredes said. “It’s not even the joy I get from being on the field, it’s off the field, the friendships I’ve been able to make. These friendships will last my entire lifetime, so it’s really the bond, the family we’re creating every day.”
According to forward Matthew Teplitz (junior), Paredes’ reliability is one of his best assets as a teammate.
“He’s just been a rock for us. He’s always there, both on the field and off the field, whenever you need him,” Teplitz said. “We’ve got a lot of faith in him.”
Pair that with Paredes’ athleticism and knowledge of the game, Teplitz said, and it is clear how invaluable he is to the team.
“He’s unbelievably strong and his physical presence is immense,” Teplitz said. “His soccer IQ is really, really high so he rarely, if ever, gives the ball away. It’s incredible given the position he plays and the amount of pressure he’s under at all times. It’s amazing to watch.”
Looking forward, the Tigers plan to fight for every point, according to Paredes.
“As a team, we’re always striving for the best. No matter what position we’re in, we’re going to keep on fighting,” Paredes said. “We’re trying to win every game one at a time, so hopefully that will get us into SCIAC play, and from there it’s just, ‘Who wants it more?’”
Off the field, Adrian is an Economics major and loves spending time in nature and with his teammates. He wants to give a shout out to his captains and his pick for Springfest is Post Malone.