PASADENA, Calif. – Visiting Occidental was given all it could handle Saturday before securing a narrow 2-0 win against a tough Caltech team.
The first 20 minutes was a free-flowing affair with both teams battling for control of the middle of the field, then looking to launch attacks from wide. There was not too much in the way of chances though, with both defenses well organized and the midfields hard at work. However, in the 21st minute an Occidental striker controlled a cross into the box and fired a shot that was saved by reigning SCIAC Athlete of the Week, John David Feist. Unfortunately, a last-ditch sliding tackle by Caltech center back Jared Reed caught his opponent late and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. From 12-yards, Oxy's Alessandro Carotenuto stepped up and hit a hard shot to the right hand corner. But Feist got to the ball with an acrobatic save and, with strong wrists, the ball was turned behind for a corner. This was the second consecutive penalty save from sophomore Feist.
Shortly afterwards, Occidental hit the inside of the post but, with 15 minutes remaining in the half, Caltech began to take control. Having forced four straight corners, it looked like Caltech had made the breakthrough. Marec Serlin guided the ball into Juan Pablo Ocampo's feet and the midfielder found sophomore Evren Gokcen unmarked eight yards out. His first shot was well saved by Tigers keeper Ian Agrimis but the ball fell back to Gokcen who, with the goal at his mercy, fired the ball right back at the keeper to the relief of the visitors. Next, a long-range strike from Caltech's Pedro Ojeda didn't quite dip enough and flew narrowly over the crossbar with Agrimis scrambling.
When the halftime whistle blew it marked the fourth game out of the last five that Caltech has entered the half without conceding a goal. Unfortunately, it didn't take long in the second half for Oxy to take the lead. Sophomore striker Morgan Bennett-Smith used his pace to get onto a long ball behind the Caltech backline and, with Feist coming out to meet him, lobbed the ball into the empty net. Occidental tried to add a second but Caltech's midfield and defense worked tirelessly and, with 20 minutes remaining, Caltech coach Rolo Uribe went for a goal by changing to three forwards. Caltech pushed the visitors back but were unable to parlay the pressure into an equalizer.
In the 87th minute an Oxy counterattack resulted in the decisive second goal, a bobbling shot into the corner that Feist may have stopped had it not been for an unfortunate slip. Despite the narrow defeat, the Caltech team put on a great performance for the spectators. The North Field is becoming a place where no visiting team looks forward to playing.
The Beavers host Redlands in a conference game on Wednesday at 4 pm.