Stout Defense Leads CMS Men's Soccer to 2-0 Win over UC Santa Cruz

Stout Defense Leads CMS Men's Soccer to 2-0 Win over UC Santa Cruz

CLAREMONT, Calif. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team scored twice 4:50 apart in the first half and held UC Santa Cruz to only five shot attempts over 90 minutes as it took a 2-0 home win on Sunday night at Pritzlaff Field.

With the win, the Stags improve to 2-0 on the young season after also shutting out Providence Christian 8-0 on Friday. UC Santa Cruz slips to 0-2 on the year after falling 2-1 in overtime to Pomona-Pitzer in its opener on Friday. 

Junior center back Adam Singer (CMC '20) had one of the two CMS goals and quarterbacked a defense that limited the Banana Slugs to only one significant scoring chance, a loose ball in the box that was nearly put home by Jacob Myers, but was cleared off the line by sophomore midfielder Harper Rubin (CMC '21) to preserve the 2-0 lead with 30 minutes to go. In fact, it was the only significant scoring chance for a CMS opponent during either game this weekend, as the Stags youthful defensive unit, with Grant Donaldson (CMC '22) in the middle with Singer, and William Birchard (CMC '21) and Nate Joseph (CMC '21) on the outside, has gotten off to a strong start to its 2018 season in front of freshman goalie Jacob Mays (CMC '22). 

"The defense has really gelled," said Singer, a junior team captain who missed all of last year with an injury and is in essence a sophomore as well. "We've got a young back line, but we've stepped up in big moments and been really solid. All we can do is grow from here and look to move forward."

The game was locked in a scoreless stalemate until the 33rd minute, when the Stags converted off a deflection outside the box. Rubin got to the ball in the center of the field 25 yards from goal, and sent a pass out wide to sophomore midfielder Nate Huntington (CMC '21) along the left side. Huntington settled and drove a cross to the far post, where freshman forward William Barton (CMC '22) crashed in and headed it in from the top of the six-yard box for his second goal in as many games to start his collegiate career. 

Just 4:50 later, the Stags added an insurance goal with 8:01 left in the half as Singer one-timed a corner kick from Joseph into the net from the top of the six-yard box for his second collegiate goal, after also scoring a game-winner against Occidental as a freshman. 

"It's always a great moment to come up and score; it's a rare occasion for a center back to be able to do that," said Singer," but obviously it helped my team out. It was a huge moment, and I'm glad I was able to provide that for them and to help get the win."

The second half was largely uneventful, as the Stags methodically protected their 2-0 lead, other than the one flurry when Rubin came up big to deflect the ball off the line with Mays out of net. Mays was called on to make his only save with 13:37 left, a routine stop of a header from Ben Blackfield. The two teams combined for only five shots in the second half, three by the Banana Slugs, as CMS finished the game with a 13-5 edge in shots. 

The strong play from the Stags in the first weekend was especially important, with league play getting underway already this week. CMS will next be in action when it hosts La Verne on Wednesday in its SCIAC opener. 

"These out of conference games are really big for us trying to get at large bids to the NCAA Tournament," said Singer. "But as a confidence game going into SCIACs this is huge; we'll look to start the season off hot against La Verne on Wednesday."