PASADENA (Oct. 27, 2018) – A heroic effort from the Caltech men's soccer team netted the Beavers their first SCIAC win under Head Coach Phil Murray in addition to their biggest win in a long time, a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Whittier College in extra time. The triumph marks the Beavers' first win over the Poets since 2007.
"I am delighted that this group of players was able to get over the line in a SCIAC contest this season, and that it happened at home, on senior day and with the final kick of the game makes it so much more special," Murray said. "This result has been four years in the making, and the effort that the team puts in – day in, day out, and their commitment to improvement and development is humbling. Having a moment like this helps to reinforce our belief in the progress we are making."
Caltech entered the second half with 45 minutes to erase a two-goal deficit in its last chance for a SCIAC victory until 2019. The men's team accomplished the feat in extra time with junior Theo Yang (Columbia, Md. / Long Reach) and sophomore Chad Thut (Dover, N.H. / Berwick Acad.) playing the heroes. Yang took the ball following a Caltech corner kick and dribbled through three defenders, drawing the opposing keeper's attention to the right side of the field while positioning Thut onside over to the left to hammer home the golden goal from point-blank range in the 96th minute. The team followed the goal by running straight to the spectator's sideline to celebrate with the Caltech faithful that had turned out in force for the season finale.
"I want to thank the team for their resilience and dedication to our goals, and for the sacrifices that are necessary to give us a chance to get where we believe we can," Murray said. "I am excited about the potential of this group going forward, and though we are sad to see this journey come to an end for now, I believe that we will continue the development in the 2019 season and look forward to continuing to challenge with increasing success against our SCIAC opponents."
Caltech cut the deficit in the second half with two goals, the first coming on a long shot from junior forward Kevin Yu (Park Ridge, N.J. / Park Ridge) and the other on a successful Samir Johnson (Portland, Ore. / Jesuit) penalty kick. Freshman midfielder Velissarios Christodolou (Athens, Greece / Athens College) assisted on Yu's goal. Yu, who finished the year with seven goals and 18 points, is responsible for the best individual offensive season under Murray's watch. Sophomore goalkeeper Joe Como (Glen Cove, N.Y. / Friends Acad.), meanwhile gave the home team one more stellar outing in net, stopping seven of nine Whittier shots to give his team a chance to win it late. Como saw his goals allowed average drop by a whole goal in his sophomore season, in addition to a two-percent increase to his save percentage. As a whole, the Beavers quadrupled their goals per game and improved their goal differential by more than 50 percent.
"Credit to the Whittier players and their coaching staff also," Murray said. "The game was well fought by both teams and despite the result not going their way, I really appreciated the lengths that each and every member of the Whittier team went to shaking hands with our guys and acknowledging this special moment in the recent history of the men's soccer program."
Murray and the Beavers have completed the 2018 season, their most successful to date. The season featured the team's first NCAA win under Murray and the most amount of total wins (4) since the team won five games in 1989.