Cole Smith's Two-Goal Effort Leads Men's Soccer to 3-0 Win over La Verne in SCIAC Opener

Cole Smith's Two-Goal Effort Leads Men's Soccer to 3-0 Win over La Verne in SCIAC Opener

CLAREMONT, Calif. - Junior forward Cole Smith scored once in each half as the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's soccer team took a 3-0 home win over La Verne on Wednesday evening in the SCIAC opener for both teams at Pritzlaff Field.

With the win, the Stags improve to 3-0 on the young season with three straight shutouts, and open at 1-0 in the SCIAC. La Verne sees its record even at 1-1 on the year, including 0-1 in league play. 

Smith's two goals provided a contrast in individual effort required, as the first one, which proved to be the eventual game-winner, required only a tap-in. Sophomore defender William Birchard made a long run up the left sideline, and drove a ball on net that handcuffed La Verne goalkeeper Tristan Polakowski. The ball squirted free inside the six-yard box, and Smith opportunistically crashed in from the weak side and was there to tap it in to put the Stags ahead 1-0 at the 17:54 mark. 

Just 2:32 into the second half, Smith extended the lead to 3-0 when he stole the ball on the CMS defensive side of the field and then made a 50-yard run past the La Verne defense. He drew Polakowski off his line, and tucked a low shot to the right side of the net that hit off the inside of the post and over the line for his second goal of the game. 

"Half of the goals you're going to score are just going to be tap-ins," said Smith. "Just being in the right space at the right time is what's important as a striker. The second goal, I was lucky to get in that position as well, and luckily the ball went off the post and in."

In between Smith's two goals, freshman William Barton scored for the third straight game to start his collegiate career, all coming off the Stag bench. His goal was set up by sophomore midfielder Harper Rubin, who played a through ball across his body from 40 yards out that led Barton perfectly in stride inside the penalty area. Barton got to the ball first, and one-timed it from 10 yards out into a small window between Polakowski and the near post to make the score 2-0 with 6:04 left in the half, giving the Stags the 2-0 lead heading into the locker room. 

Freshman goalie Jacob Mays had three saves in the second half to pick up his third straight shutout to start his collegiate career, as opposing teams continue to have difficulty even challenging the CMS net. La Verne managed to seriously threaten once, but Christopher Wong's shot from 10 yards out missed wide left in the 58th minute. Although he plays at the opposite end of the field, Smith has been impressed with the work that his team's defense has shown in the early part of the 2018 season. 

"We expected a lot from our defense this year," said Smith. "But our holding midfielders, our back line, our goalie, they work so well together; so much better than we even expected. We're all excited to see where this season is going to go."

CMS finished with a narrow 12-11 edge in shots for the game, but had a commanding 9-2 edge in corner kicks (including 7-0 in the first half). Polakowski had five saves for La Verne in the loss. 

The Stags step out of conference for one more home tune-up on Friday against Macalaster at 7 p.m., before returning to SCIAC play next week at Pomona-Pitzer for a 4 p.m. start on Wednesday.