THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – A second-half offensive surge came just a little too late as the No. 2 Cal Lutheran Regals fell in heartbreak fashion to the No. 3 Occidental Tigers 2-1 in the semifinals of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoffs.
Both teams entered the contest at 8-2-4 in the SCIAC and without a score in their two regular season matchups. However, after holding gridlocked for nearly 233 minutes, Occidental broke through with a goal in the 13th minute of Wednesday night's contest.
Occidental's Katherine Kim attempted to service the ball into the left side of the box, but was intercepted by junior Riley Martin. The Regals defender took two touches before being tackled from behind, but with no whistle, Tigers' Dylan Wensley recovered the ball and tucked one into the top left corner for the early 1-0 score.
The Regals came close to an equalizer in the 27th with freshman Danielle Vis finding just enough space between two defenders to get a shot off, but the ball skimmed inches high of the crossbar. Overall, Vis led the offense with three shots, while sophomore Trinity Martinez, sophomore Alexandra Fagerberg and junior Maddy Griess each contributed two apiece.
Down one heading into the second half, Cal Lutheran picked up their pace and offensive pressure, opening the period with a near equalizer just four minutes in. In a huge moment for the Regals, senior Riley Settles took a ball into the box from the left side, sliding down to her knees just in time to push the ball ahead to senior Emily Williams who found a chance at goal with the keeper off her line, but Tigers' Karla Alas-Lopez stepped in just in time for the defensive save.
Much alike, Occidental got one of their own shut down by the defense. In the 59th minute, a cross from Occidental was blocked down low by keeper Gabby Flores, but the rebound was pushed forward towards the goal by Kim. Thankfully for the Regals, junior Zandra Stewart got between the posts just in time to skyrocket the ball with her right foot before it crossed the plane of the goal line.
However, the Tigers responded by tacking on another in the 64th on a free kick just outside the top of the box. Taking advantage of another foul, Occidental sent Elleni Bekele in for the set piece who shot one into the top right quadrant for the second goal of the night.
The Regals were not done, though, and were able to bring the score to within just one with two and half minutes remaining off a handball inside the box by Occidental. Fagerberg stepped to the penalty spot and nailed one to the left side of the net for her fourth goal of the season and sending William Rolland Stadium into a frenzy.
With score 2-1, the stadium hushed as Cal Lutheran got one last shot off under pressure by Settles with less than 20 seconds on the clock. But as the shot flew high of the bar, hearts began to sink as the time ran out on the clock.
Cal Lutheran concludes their season 10-3-5 overall, 6-1-2 at home and 4-2-3 on the road. They finish second in the SCIAC in the regular season.
Box Score: OXY 2, CLU 1
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director