EAGLE ROCK - Last Wednesday under the lights at Occidental College, Caltech's soccer team fought hard but ultimately succumbed 4-0 in a game that was much closer than the score suggests.
Buoyed by key saves by sophomore goalkeeper John David Feist (8 total), the score remained level through the contest's opening 33 minutes until Occidental's Tod Kawadda was able to slide the ball home following a poor clearance by Caltech's back line.
Right before halftime Caltech had chances to even the match. Teo Wilkening had a 35-yard effort that beat the keeper but went the wrong side of the post. Shortly afterwards an apparent foul on Caltech's Marec Serlin inside the opposition penalty box was not given and the whistle went with Occidental up 1-0 at the half.
In the second half Caltech again began brightly but was undone by a fantastic volley from Occidental's Morgan Bennett-Smith off a cross that was only partially cleared. With Caltech now pushing high in search of a goal, Occidental added a third on a breakaway by Gabriel Barrett-Jackson. A low free kick with time running down gave the Tigers another goal.
Competitive throughout, Caltech is disappointed not to have found the scoresheet. However, it received great team performances from Evren Gokcen and Juan Pablo Ocampo. Their passing and tenacity in midfield is worthy of special mention.
PASADENA - On Saturday, visiting Whittier College was pushed hard by Caltech before it left with a 5-1 win, a final score that did not tell the true story of the game.
After just seven minutes, Whittier's Lucas Depinna was given too much space 25-yards out and made Caltech pay by rifling home an unstoppable shot that gave the home keeper JD Feist no chance. Shortly afterwards, Depinna made the score 2-0 when the Beavers had several chances to clear the ball in their 6-yard box but failed to do so.
Rather than wilt, Caltech's response was immediate. Forcing Whittier back and maintaining possession better than in previous games Caltech had several half-chances that Whittier (3 combined saves) did well to repel. In the 33rd minute the pressure finally told. Evren Gokcen picked up possession in his own half and found Pedro Ojeda who turned and found freshman Chris Haack (first assist of Ojeda's collegiate career) with a great ball into space down the right wing. Haack took a touch and then delivered a cross into the space between the keeper and defenders. A surging Marec Serlin timed his run to perfection and finished for his second goal of the season.
The goal gave renewed confidence to Caltech who was now winning headers and 50/50 balls. Whittier was pleased to have heard the half time whistle.
With the next goal certain to shape the outcome of the game it was Whittier who scored within three minutes of the restart. Caltech did not let their heads drop as Valentin Skoutnev and Adam Ball set the tone with several crunching tackles. A through ball from Masaharu Ono to Serlin almost made its way through and Jared Schaeffer Reed narrowly missed the target with a well won header (from one of Caltech's three corner kicks on the day) but Whittier did a good job of defending its lead.
In the 78th and 80th minutes Whittier added back-to-back goals to seal the game. The first was from a breakaway scored by Brian Russell and the other was a well placed free kick by Connor Tait-Mole to make it 1-5, which it remained until the final whistle.
With a game that game hung in the balance until the final 12 minutes, the Caltech team can be proud to have pushed a strong Whittier team so close. An improving Beavers squad travels to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Wednesday, Sept. 24 for a 7pm start.