Men’s soccer forward Connor Freeman (junior) was the player to watch going into the season. He started his third year with the Tigers with one goal and one assist during the team’s season opening trip to Colorado, but a shoulder injury had the potential to derail his season early on.
In last week’s rematch against Whittier, Freeman came back in a big way, scoring two goals in just 41 seconds.
“I was more shocked than anything; I wasn’t expecting to score and it wasn’t like I did anything special, I literally just tapped the ball and it went in,” Freeman said. “The first thought that went through my head after I scored was that all of the players were running at me with their arms out, and they were getting ready to hug me or whatever, but that still really hurts my shoulder, so I put out my arm and was like ‘NO NO NO NO NO!’ Once they all came they just lightly patted me. It was great.”
He continued his streak two days later against the Sagehens, scoring the tying goal in the 3–1 victory. All three of Freeman’s goals were assisted by Tod Kwada (first-year), who got the striker’s spot after his injury.
“Tod has put the team on his back,” Freeman said. “When I got injured he got the starting spot and has just risen to the occasion.”
According to Freeman, the team is having their best season in program history. Last season the Tigers only managed to win two conference games. Now, they are currently in second place in the league and are likely to make the SCIAC tournament for the first time.
The Tigers have completely changed their team dynamic this year. Freeman attributes the change in team dynamic to coach Rod Lafaurie and the senior captains.
“We’re a family this year,” Freeman said. “Like Tod crossing the ball to me, that wouldn’t have happened last year because everyone was just so wrapped up in themselves. I think Rod and our captains have built a sense of community and family.”
Captain Alessandro Carotenuto (senior) is happy to finally have Freeman back with the soccer family on the field. Despite missing almost half of the season, Freeman has tallied the fourth most points on the team with four goals and an assist.
“Connor is a machine,” Carotenuto said. “I don’t know how else to say it. He just comes in the clutch.”
Occidental women’s cross country runner Mel Devoney* (sophomore) usually tries to pace herself early in her races and save a final burst of energy for when she nears the finish line. But at the SCIAC Multi-Duals at La Mirada Park in La Mirada, Calif. on Friday, she changed her strategy and was rewarded with a fifth place finish and a time of 22:12.97, improving her course time by 32.09 seconds.
“My goal was to take a risk and go out in first, second, third place and see how long I could hold onto that,” Devoney said. “I did that for as long as I could, so overall I’m happy that I just went for it because I don’t usually do that.”
Although Devoney admitted she was somewhat disappointed that she did not hold on to a top-three spot, she improved on her eighth-place finish from last year’s race at the same course.
“[Devoney] ran bravely at the SCIAC Multi-Dual last Friday night going to the front of a conference race and challenging for the win for the first time in her career,” head cross country coach Rob Bartlett said via email. “That experience will stand in her great stead going forward and I can’t wait to see how she does in our remaining competitions.”
Devoney also finished first among the Tigers, who put together a solid team performance, finishing fourth among the nine-team field.
Devoney and the Tigers will look to improve on their marks at the SCIAC Championships on Saturday, Nov. 1 at Prado Park in San Bernadino, Calif. Devoney hopes her momentum will carry over to her next race.
“It’s more of a confidence thing, because I know that I can be at the top now” Devoney said. “It’s just a matter of believing in myself.”