Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
CLAREMONT, Calif. - A strike from distance early in the contest spoiled the 24th-ranked Pacific Lutheran University women's soccer team's NCAA Division III Tournament debut on Saturday as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges earned the 1-0 victory in the opening round at the Pomona-Pitzer Soccer Field.
The Athenas (15-5-1) seized the lead less than three minutes into the contest on the first shot of the game. CMS's tally came off the boot of Emily Cassell, blasting a shot from distance and finding the upper right corner of the net. Neither team mustered many offensive chances the rest of the opening half with just five shots in the opening stanza and only one on frame.
The high-octane Lute offense was held at bay for a majority of the contest with PLU (16-1-4) unable to rip off a shot until Leah Magee did so in the 69th minute. Kaylie Rozell tallied PLU's first shot on frame in the 82nd minute while Kelly White had a chance in the waning moments on a set play before hitting wide.
"That was not the start we were looking for but credit to the team, we came into the game and found ourselves in the second part of the first half," said Head Coach Seth Spidahl.
"We just played okay today and we just didn't have enough of our players play to their top potential, and credit to Claremont, they probably had a lot to do with that."
PLU owned a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks but was outshot by a 12-3 margin over the course of the game.
Takara Mitsui made one save in goal for the Lutes while her counterpart, Kelly McConnell, netted the clean sheet after making one save. With the victory, CMS advances to play host Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the second round.
"There's only going to be one team that wins their final game in the NCAA Tournament. I told the players that if I told you before the season started that you would finish the regular season undefeated, winning the Northwest conference and lose in the first round of the playoffs in southern California would you take it as a guarantee and they all said yes."
Saturday's showdown was the final collegiate game for PLU's six seniors: AJ Fischer, Lauren Larson, Takara Mitsui, Lena Moreno, Krista Morford, and Kelly White. The Lutes' six seniors leave behind a tremendous legacy, improving the team's win total every season and ending their careers with a 56-13-12 record on the pitch over the last four seasons, including winning the program's first Northwest Conference Title in 24 years.
"I'm obviously very pleased and happy with the team, most importantly the six seniors. In 2013 when they came in they changed the program and kept elevating it. We've had a better season year-after-year."
"I really believe that team's are led with upperclassmen and certainly Kelly, Takara, AJ, Lena, Kelly, and Krista have played a huge role, not just as players but as people and leaders and as great students. They really embody what our program is about so I couldn't be more happy. They finished with a legacy season and that's why I've always called them a legacy class."