Sometimes soccer players get chances that are too perfect. It seems impossible for them not to score. Yet, somehow, whether they slip, scuff the shot or just panic, the shot goes wide. That’s what happened to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sophomore forward Patrick Burke when Chapman faced Claremont Sept. 16.
It was the relieving sound of the ball hitting the post that kept Chapman’s 1-0 margin intact with less than four minutes remaining, pushing the team to third place in the conference.
Burke had a chance to tie the game up with a tap in, just a few feet away from goal, with no one to prevent him from scoring. But seconds later, after rebounding off the post, the ball was easily scooped up by senior goalkeeper Sean Augustine to the surprise of spectators, coaches and players alike.
“I honestly don’t know how (Burke) missed,” said senior midfielder Elliott Braund. “There wasn’t a sense of nervousness as much as there was relief. It was an absolute sitter and we were fortunate to have it hit the post.”
Head coach Eddie Carrillo agreed.
“Was I nervous?” Carillo said. “I thought that was a goal. I was beyond nervous.”
Senior midfielder Zev Gollis – who returned from a three-game suspension Sept. 13 – said Chapman needs to maintain its focus toward the end of games better, going forward.
“We had a similar stroke of luck against La Verne, and we know as a unit that we can’t count on such luck down the road,” Gollis said. “We brush those things off in the game and stay focused, but as we prepare for the next games this season, we know we need to stay disciplined throughout the game, especially toward the dying moments.”
Chapman and Claremont found themselves in a deadlock until late in the second half, with Chapman’s breakthrough coming from the pair of seniors: Braund, the scorer, and Gollis, who provided the assist. Gollis whipped in a low, driven cross from the right side of the box where the ball found Braund, who volleyed the shot home for his first conference goal of the season, giving Chapman the one-goal lead it needed to win in the 73rd minute.
“To get the goal feels amazing,” Braund said. “It’s a great feeling, just to help the team get an important win in-conference and push us up the standings. We didn’t start conference play the way we would’ve wished, so to get two wins (this week) on the road is huge, especially against teams who think they should be contending at the top of the conference.”
Without its previously suspended six senior players and two assistant coaches, Chapman went winless through five games for the first time since 2005.
Carrillo said that due to Chapman’s struggle to score Sept. 16, he thought the goal would likely decide the game.
“We haven’t been scoring a lot, so (I thought it would be the game-winner),” Carrillo said. “We had another clear chance from (sophomore midfielder) Jonah (Tipp) and we had some headers, but I thought that would be the one.”
Gollis said the win overshadowed Chapman’s start to the game.
“We started off a bit slow, but we were able to pick the tempo up and take control of the game,” Gollis said. “Sometimes you have to grind out results like this.”
Since the win puts Chapman in third place in the conference, even if Occidental College ‒ with a game in hand on Chapman ‒ wins its next game, Chapman will only fall to fourth place in the standings with 10 conference games remaining.
Braund said he’s “excited to have (the) season back on track.”
“We’re a great team when we’re fully fit,” Braund said. “I think we’ve showed that in the last couple of games.”
Chapman will return home for its next game against Whittier College at 4 p.m. Sept. 20.