PASADENA (Aug. 31, 2018) – A second-half tally from sophomore forward Rohan Mirchandani (Pleasanton, Calif. / Foothill) proved to be enough for the Caltech men's soccer team to defeat Linfield College, 1-0, on Friday afternoon. The victory marks the program's first NCAA win since 2011 and first under Head Coach Phil Murray.
"We're very pleased with the result," Murray said. "Linfield caused a lot of problems with its unique style of play and made it very difficult for us to find a rhythm but we managed to get our noses in front and then showed a great amount of resilience to keep a well-earned shutout. I am delighted to get the first win of the season and hope the players take the confidence from it into what is always a tough SCIAC season."
Mirchandani's goal, the first in his two-year Caltech career, came as the result of a set-piece run initiated by junior Kevin Yu (Park Ridge, N.J. / Park Ridge). Yu's centering pass found enough Caltech traffic in front of the next allowing sophomore Chad Thut (Dover, N.H. / Berwick Acad.) to get a touch on it before Mirchandani finished into the right side of the net. The goal came in the 58th minute, meaning the Beavers still needed to hold the Wildcats off over the next 32 in order to secure the victory and consequentially a clean sheet.
Reigning SCIAC Newcomer of the Year Joe Como (Glen Cove, N.Y. / Friends Acad.) had a sensational afternoon in net, particularly after Mirchandani's go-ahead goal when it mattered most. Como stopped two second-half headers, the first of which nearly put the Wildcats on top, and picked up 11 saves, seven of which came in the second half. The keeper's best moment arguably came at the end of the 68th minute where he turned back a Linfield shot from about 15 feet out before having to quickly turn away the ensuing rebound. Como, however only had to make one save over the game's final 20 minutes thanks to the clearing ability of center backs sophomore Andrew Larson (Portland, Ore. / Jesuit) and freshman Daniel Israel (San Jose, Calif. / Lynbrook). Israel also nearly put in a goal of his own in the 77th minute on a deep free-kick that caused the Linfield goalkeeper to get vertical to make the stop.
The men's victory also marks the first-ever two-for-two day for Caltech soccer, with the women's team earning its first NCAA victory over Oberlin College earlier that morning.
Murray and the Beavers will return to North Field on Wednesday, Sept. 5 where they will open up SCIAC play hosting Pomona-Pitzer Colleges for a 4 p.m. clash.