One game after falling to an emotional low in a loss to Pomona-Pitzer, the Occidental men's soccer team scratched a 12-year itch.
The Tigers (6-6-1, 5-3) shut out Claremont, 1-0, in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match Saturday. It was the first time Occidental has defeated the Stags since 1976.
"They kicked our butts all over the field. We were flat as a pancake from start to finish and nothing we did was right," Coach Lowell Thomas said of the 5-0 loss to Pomona. "They felt embarrassed, humiliated and wanted to redeem themselves and felt there was no better way to do that than against the No. 1 team."
Calling Claremont No. 1 is no exaggeration. Claremont (10-2-1, 6-1-1) has won or shared the conference title each of the past 12 years.
The Stags, ranked fifth in the Division III Far West region, had compiled a 74-2-2 conference record since 1980. Both losses and both ties had come against La Verne. In addition, this season Claremont defeated Cal State San Bernardino, ranked No. 1 in the Far West, and Messiah College (Pa.), ranked No. 8 in the nation.
Aran Aleamoni, a junior forward, scored with 4 minutes remaining, but the goal's significance didn't immediately sink in.
"I trapped it, bounced it, the goalie came out and I shot it in the face of the goal," he said. "I really didn't think about it then, but later it hit me."
Tiger goalie Chris Owen said it was only a matter of time before Occidental jelled.
"They were a better team," he said. "But we knew that on any given day we could beat them."
Bad Connection: Though the Franklin High Panthers are ranked No. 1 in City Section by The Times, All-City receiver Chad Infranca is having a tough time playing with consistency.
Infranca, who caught 63 passes for 1,030 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, has yet to get in sync with junior quarterback Santiago Alvarez.
"One day we're on and one day we're off," said Infranca, who caught just 2 passes for 40 yards in last week's 24-13 win over Marshall. For the season, he has 27 catches for 450 yards and 4 touchdowns.
However, Coach Armondo Gonzales has a different theory. Infranca sustained a hyper-extended right knee against Granada Hills the second game of the season and it's that, Gonzales says, which has slowed his performance.
"If Chad was 100% he'd be tearing it up," Gonzales said. "I tape him up every day and he looks like a mummy."
Tailback Lamont Lovett has found a groove. Against Marshall, he gained 231 yards in 31 carries and scored 2 touchdowns.
"He's the best tailback I've ever seen at Franklin," Gonzales said. "He's a back in the USC mold. The more I give him the ball, the better he gets."
Running Wild: The Occidental women's cross-country team finished 14th in a field of 15, ahead of only Cal State Northridge, in the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Invitational last Saturday.
Northridge is currently ranked 9th in Division II.
The Tiger men finished 15th.