The Whittier College Men’s Soccer team took the field on a chilly Saturday evening against Pomona-Pitzer and hit their stride early. The Poets managed to pull ahead 2-0, playing offensively and shutting down early attempts from Pomona to get into the box. However, they would be unable to maintain their lead as the Sagehens pushed the game into overtime, snatching victory with a score of 3-2.
The first goal came from Whittier sophomore forward Jacob Conlon. In the thirteenth minute, Conlon hit from just outside the box off his right foot and the audience tensed as they watched the ball curve towards the goal. Pomona keeper Ben Mitchell dove, out-stretching his arms and fingers in an attempt to stop the shot. The crowd erupted in applause as the ball found its mark in the lower left corner of the goal.
After being up 1-0 at halftime, the Poets would add to their lead during the second half. Junior forward Connor Tait-Mole sent a cross to fellow senior forward James Suri. Capitalizing off the exchange, Suri scored off a strike that ricocheted off the right post and into the back of the net.
Tension built as they neared the end of the second half, with shots and scoring opportunities coming from Pomona’s players. Sophomore defender Gonzalo Martinez Zorzi came up big for Whittier when Pomona forward Voja Maric pulled keeper Jorge Rivas off his line. Maric saw an opportunity in the one-on-one with Rivas and took a shot. A look of dismay fell over the spectators until Zorzi stepped up and prevented a close goal for Pomona.
Whittier put up a good fight, but Pomona was still able to equalize the game, sending them into overtime. The dreaded “golden goal” rule leered above the heads of those watching in the bleachers — always a blessing and a curse. In this game, it was a curse, as Pomona ended the game when forward Andy Parks slipped past the Poet defense as a cross was sent in for a tip-in. Pomona rejoiced as Whittier players dropped to the ground. A feeling of overwhelming disappointment hit the players and the fans. The Poets worked hard, and lost a game they seemed certain to win.
The Poets will play at home against the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (C.M.S.) next Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.