LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Senior midfielder Alex McHenry propelled the Occidental College (4-7, 4-4) women's soccer team into playoff contention Saturday with a put back goal early in the second half against the University of La Verne (2-9-3, 1-8).
McHenry's strike turned out to not only be the game winner in the Tigers' 1-0 victory, but also keeps Oxy within striking distance of fourth place in the SCIAC, as the University of Redlands (8-4-1, 5-4) topped Whittier College 1-0 earlier in the evening.
"It felt great to finally score," McHenry said after scoring her first goal of the season. "It's been a while since I've scored. I felt like I finally contributed after missing some close ones in the first half."
The first half was at times sloppy for both sides and Occidental missed multiple good opportunities early on.
"Honestly we could have had three or four more scores had we been a little sharper," said coach Colm McFeeley. "But we stuck with it the whole way. They showed the fire, spirit, and drive we (as coaches) knew was in them."
McHenry, and the rest of the Tigers, were more precise and aggressive in the second.
After McHenry's score the Occidental front line did a good job keeping the pressure on the La Verne defense for the remainder of the game.
La Verne had a scary opportunity with 2:37 left as Nancy Rodriguez unleashed a shot from inside the box that was saved by Oxy keeper Tayler Renshaw.
Occidental will need to carry over the energy and determination they showed tonight into their next Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match up on Wednesday, as they play host to Redlands.
A win against Redlands would draw Occidental into a tie with the Bulldogs for fourth place with three games remaining. Only the top four teams in conference make the SCIAC Tournament, with the winner of that getting the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA postseason tournament.
"When we go out with that fire and energy, we can play with anyone," McFeeley said. "We need to bottle up what we had this game and bring it every time we take the field."
The match Wednesday can be viewed live here at 4:00 p.m.