LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Occidental College was even with one of the better SCIAC men's soccer teams for the first 44 minutes on Wednesday, playing Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to a 1-1 draw with each team recording seven shots.
From there, it all fell apart.
The Tigers (4-9, 4-5) gave up a goal just before half to go down 2-1, then three unanswered in the second half, losing 5-1 to the second place (8-3-1, 5-2-1) Stags at Lower Field.
Marcus Brandford finished one of his three good first half opportunities during a short stretch of time where Oxy played well, but a quick drop off in effort and intensity had Oxy staring down a route before they knew it.
"We only played hard for 15 minutes and that to me is unbelievable. I don't know how to explain it," Occidental coach Rod Lafaurie. "I'm really disappointed in the lack of focus, the lack of effort and energy for 75 minutes of the game. For 15 minutes we were okay."
Lafaurie said Branford's goal was a product of Oxy executing their preferred style of play. But the Tigers could not sustain that same enthusiasm for the rest of the contest.
"Besides when we scored the goal during that time, we were good because we kept them in their half, were able to press, we were able to keep the ball," Lafaurie said. "We took our foot off of the gas pedal physically and mentally and paid the price against a good team."
Drake Berglund scored on a free kick from 40 yards out in the second half, but because the Tigers fouled Stags' goalkeeper Frederick Dora, the goal was taken off of the board.
Harrison Doyle had two goals and Tony Garcia, David Taylor and John Shaughnessy each had one for CMS.
The Tigers, currently sitting at fifth place and on the outside looking in if the playoffs were tomorrow, still control their own destiny for the fourth place slot.
"It's always tough to lose by that much," Occidental midfielder Will Moseley said. "We'll look to get back on track Saturday and push past it."