Women's Soccer Loses and Breaks Their Winning Streak
After splitting the past week's home games with a 4-0 win over Glendale College (6-7-4) and a 0-1 loss to Los Angeles Pierce College (15-2-3), the Santa Monica College Lady Corsairs (10-2-5) have taken a step back towards their goal of a Western State Conference title. With losses to conference leader Los Angeles Pierce College as well as conference powerhouse Bakersfield (11-4-3), the road to the title is now out of the hands of the Lady Corsairs. The few teams ahead of the Lady Corsairs would need to drop their next few games in order for the Lady Corsairs to leapfrog them in the standings, something that Coach Aaron Benditson sees as a possibility, but does not rely upon it.
"You might ask 'Am I a bit of a dreamer saying that we still have a shot at the conference championship?' Yeah. I'm a little unrealistic about that, but anything can happen. So, we just gotta go out with the mentality that if we play our best soccer, and if we play with the confidence and the commitment that we've had, I think we'll end strongly. And I think that's a great accomplishment for our team."
The Lady Corsairs' second loss of the season had familiar qualities to their previous loss to Bakersfield College, as both games were 1-0 decisions at SMC.
"Emotions were high. There were a lot of highs and lows, a lot of ups and downs on both sides, and both teams had chances to win. It was a really up and back game. At the end of the day, we only have two losses in 17 games, which is a pretty good mark, both of them being from top-16 teams," said Benditson.
The 4-0 win over Glendale College last Tuesday saw the return to form of freshman forward Jen Hager, who after seven games was the team's leading scorer with eight goals and three assists. Hager suffered a hyper-extended knee in the Lady Corsairs' first game against Bakersfield this season, having to sit out for six games until returning for the Oct. 24 rematch against Bakersfield. In Tuesday's game, Hager had two goals in the 4-0 victory.
"We just want to keep winning and keep getting shutouts so our ranking goes up. That's our main focus," said Hager.
At 10-2-5, the Lady Corsairs' team focus now turns to finishing out the season strong, with two upcoming road games and two home games to end the season. A strong defense that has only allowed three goals in a game once all season (and only to Ventura College, ranked fifth in the state) will match up against a series of rematches with Citrus College (7-11-2), Los Angeles Mission College (5-11-1), College of the Canyons (4-15-0), and Los Angeles Valley College (4-12-2), with whom the Lady Corsairs have posted an otherworldly 21-0 scoring difference in their first four meetings with the clubs.
"We always have the philosophy with the girls that if you don't concede goals that you're always in the position to win games," said Benditson.
Of course, though this Lady Corsairs' team is having one of its better statistical seasons in years, it is important to not assume that the playoffs are a formality, as sitting idly on the achievements of the regular season do not translate to playoff success. While regular season success leads the team down the path to the playoffs, executing the game plan that has worked throughout the season can illustrate the success of the season translated to the postseason.
"I think everybody's on board. Everyone knows what's at stake. Hopefully we're going to grow as a team and we're going to end our season strong for our sophomores, for everybody. We've all worked really hard this year to get to the point where we're at. We're just going to have a really strong final push. Everybody on the team wants it, so I feel confident," said Benditson.
The Lady Corsairs will be away this week with games at College of the Canyons and Los Angeles Valley College, with their final two home games next week against Los Angeles Mission College and Citrus College.
"We're still in the hunt for playoffs and we want to finish the season strong. Our biggest team goal is to maintain eligibility for the playoffs and to keep improving in our form, bouncing back. That's what great teams do. Win or lose, you can learn from the game. You can learn from result."