Trevor Mutch chose to go to a Division III school because he wanted to concentrate on his education, not athletics, and simply have fun playing soccer. He's doing a lot more than just having fun.
In his second season at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Mutch has not only led the Stags to the playoffs, he has put himself among the nation's leaders in scoring for the second consecutive year.
Mutch has scored 21 goals, tied for sixth in the nation in Division III, and is the main weapon for a team that finished 12-1-1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, winning the conference title outright for the first time since 1994. Wednesday night, the Stags host Chapman at 7:30 in Claremont's first playoff game since 1997.
And the Stags are confident going into the playoffs, saying they're peaking just in time.
"There were teams here before who had good seasons but were flat at the end. We are just the opposite," Coach Louis Bilowitz said. "Our last three games were our only three in which we've had the lineup we planned on having all year."
For Mutch, the playoffs are nothing new. An All-Southern Section player at Loyola along with his brother, Shaun, who also plays for Claremont, Mutch was on a Southern Section championship team two years ago.
He was ready to move on to a Division I program, looking at such schools as Loyola Marymount and California. But he decided that his need for an education came before his desire to play major collegiate soccer.
"I wanted to concentrate on what I'm going to school for and get a degree in four years," he said. "I love it here. The class sizes are small, I can actually talk to my teachers outside of class and I'll be out of here in four years."
But while he has played in the obscurity of the SCIAC, Mutch has had no trouble in putting his name among the nation's statistical leaders.
His 21 goals are actually a drop-off from the 24 he scored as a freshman, best for Division III freshmen and one short of the school record. He also had 52 points in 1998, 10th in the nation in points per game and tops among Division III freshmen. This year he has 48 points, 11th in points per game.
He credits his success to diligence in games and practice.
"I don't think I'm much better than everyone, I just put myself in position," he said. "It's about hard work and knowing where the ball's coming."
And that hard work has carried over in his education. Considering either a future in government or business, Mutch is thinking about a double-major.
But for now, Mutch's attention is still devoted to soccer. And regardless of how this season ends, he looks to be headed for more soccer success in the future.
With 45 goals and 101 points, Mutch is on pace to break school records for points (177) and goals (70), which were set by Eric Themm from 1982 to '85.
Though Mutch knows those records are within reach, he has a bigger goal in mind right now.
"Those things you can worry about when you're a senior and your career is winding down," he said. "I have two years left and I'll gladly exchange the records for a national championship.
Juan Carlos Bolanos scored all three goals for Dominguez Hills as the Toros defeated Grand Canyon, 3-1, to win their first California Collegiate Athletic Assn. championship Saturday. . . . The news wasn't as good for the Toro women. They lost a heartbreaker to Cal Poly Pomona, 1-0, in quadruple overtime in Sunday's CCAA championship. Tera Oldfield scored the only goal in the 149th minute. But the two meet again Saturday at Pomona in an NCAA regional game. Also, Cal Poly Coach Carlos Juarez was named CCAA coach of the year earlier in the week. . . . After a scoreless regulation and overtime, Azusa Pacific defeated Westmont, 3-1, on penalty kicks Saturday to advance to the regional championship match against Fresno Pacific this Saturday. . . . The Westmont women got some revenge, defeating defending national champion Azusa Pacific, 4-2, in their regional final Saturday.
The season Redlands quarterback Danny Ragsdale is putting together gets more impressive every weekend. Saturday, he passed for 376 yards and five touchdowns in little more than a half, leading the Bulldogs to a school-record 73 points in a 73-3 rout of Whittier. Ragsdale now holds school season records for yards (3,093) and touchdowns (29), and is second in the nation in total yards per game at more than 408.4. Ragsdale actually helped bring down one of his school records Saturday, completing a pass to receiver Chad Hustead for the 64th time this season. That breaks the record of 63 set by Ragsdale two years ago, before he took over at quarterback last season.
Azusa Pacific's Chrystall DeNaeyer edged Concordia's Tricia Mattson to win the GSAC cross-country championship Saturday. Both runners were timed in 18 minutes 18 seconds. Concordia won the team title, and Cal Baptist won the men's championship.