While most students enjoyed their last few weeks of summer free time at home, Occidental’s fall sports athletes spent their days in the hot Los Angeles sun, sometimes practicing up to three times a day. Occidental sports fans have plenty to look forward to with the soccer and cross country teams hoping to turn in successful seasons.
The women’s soccer team defeated Caltech 7-0 in a non-conference match Sept. 7. They recently lost against Whittier Wednesday, Sept. 13, but head coach Colm McFeely remains optimistic.
“Our overall season goals have not changed,” McFeely said via email. “[The] priority is to take every game as it comes and keep our goal of making the postseason tournament in mind but not the daily focus.”
After a shutout against Willamette with two goals from Tod Kawada (senior), the men’s soccer team is ready for a successful season in the competitive SCIAC conference. The toughest in-conference competition will likely be University of Redlands, ranked No. 7 in Division III.
“Since Redlands is coming off such a successful 2016 season, they will be a major test for us down the stretch,” Tyler Wray (sophomore) said via email. “But we see our matches with them as an opportunity to prove that we are just as capable to match and even surpass their achievements of last season.”
The men’s soccer team has the impact of Matthew Teplitz (first year), who assisted one of Kawada’s goals against Willamette, to help them conquer Redlands.
The team also fosters a culture of pushing themselves to their very best, according to head coach Rod LaFaurie.
“Ultimately, we’ll be defined by our actions and today we’re going to lift weights to the best of our ability,” LaFaurie said via email. “Tomorrow we’ll train to highest standard and so on, and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Early on weekend mornings, the men and women’s cross country teams assemble on the patios of Rush Gymnasium, not for a Bengal Bus wildcard trip, but rather to get in their long runs. Both teams are currently ranked second in the conference, third in the region and are nationally ranked, with the women at No. 27 and the men at No. 18 among Division III schools.
A summer of higher-than-usual mileage has yielded some strong workouts so far for the women’s cross country team.
“Over the past few years, we—the coaching staff—have been witness to an impressive maturation process the distance squad has undergone,” assistant coach Tyler Yamaguchi said via email. “They have worked tirelessly, steadily improved each season and we fully expect the fruits of their labor to be obvious this year.”
With six of their top seven runners returning from last season but with just one first year, the men’s cross country team is hoping to place in the top 10 at nationals Nov. 18 in Illinois.
“I believe we’re the toughest team to beat in the conference and the region,” Keenan Leary (senior) said. “We may not have all been top D-III recruits out of high school, but we know how to race smart, gritty and we’re experienced.”
The men and women’s soccer teams both have games this week, against California Lutheran University and University of Redlands, respectively.