Football see home opener spoiled by ACU

Photo by: Tony Leon/
Photo by: Tony Leon/

By Dan Gudino

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Football team gave a valiant losing effort in the home opener on Saturday, against Arizona Christian University, falling 56-38 at Memorial Stadium in front of almost 1,500 strong.

The Poets matched its highest scoring output since last year’s “Shoes Game” against rival, Occidental College, where Whittier fell by the same score, 56-38.

Whittier Head Coach Mike Neale stayed true to his hard-nose attitude with a run game that rendered 39 carries for 163 yards, while staying balanced with 233 yards through the air, on 40 attempts.

The Purple & Gold found the endzone on their second possession as they went 60 yards in 6-plays highlighted by a Miguel Avina(Indio, Calif.) to Hakim Williams Jr. (Riverside, Calif.) connection down the sideline for 32 yards, which led to the Avina two-yard touchdown run.

On the very next series for the Firestorm, the Poets earned great field position as junior Natnael Yitayew (San Diego, Calif.)would collect his first interception of his career returning it 12-yards to the ACU 40.  But Whittier couldn’t capitalize from there giving the ball right back.

The second quarter proved to be a high scoring affair as a combined 38 points would be scored. The Poets trailed 14-7 to start things off but came down on their ensuing series again with Avina connecting with Williams Jr., this time for 41 yards down to the ACU 31 but again the Poets would have to settle with a 22-yard field goal from Eric Voss (Temecula, Calif.).

Later in the frame, freshman Chance Trammell (Chico, Calif.) got into the mix finding open space with a 17-yard touchdown, putting Whittier within striking distance at 28-17 with under two minutes to play.

After a three and out forced by the defensive unit, Whittier had an opportunity to keep it at a two score game going into the half but they had a major mistake.  On a third down conversion, Avina tried to dump off a quick pass outside but he was hit as he threw sending the ball right into the arms of Arizona Christian defensive lineman, Jared Landseade, who made his lineman’s dream a reality with a 42-yard pick six making the score 35-17 at halftime.

Whittier was shutout in the third as ACU extended their lead to 32 but WC never backed down making a huge comeback in the final 15:00 outscoring the Firestorm 21-7.

Trammell continued to truck along with another score from four yards out making the score 49-27 at the start of the fourth.  Whittier’s defensive unit stood strong on the next series once again this time with Nickolas Perez (Shafter, Calif.) picking up a fumble recovery giving the Poets another opportunity deep in ACU territory.

Whittier would capitalize on this turnover as Avina would find Brian Phelan (Chino Hills, Calif.) from seven yards out, which pulled the Poets within 19.  Then with under five minutes to play the Poets would find the endzone one more time, this time with an Alex Tejeda (Chula Vista, Calif.)-Phelan connection from six yards.

Avina finished the game 12-29 for 194 yards and a touchdown.

Trammell finished with three team-highs, 19 carries for 96 yards and 105 All-Purpose yards, as he recorded a catch for nine yards. He leads all Poet runners this season with 174 yards rushing.

Phelan proved to be a trustworthy target on the evening, leading all receivers in receptions with eight for 47 yards, matching Trammell with two TDs of his own.

The Poets defense got some action as well and kept it close early in the game with interceptions from Nicholas Markarian (Chino Hills, Calif.) and Yitayew both their first career interceptions at Whittier.  The defensive unit also recorded three tackles for losses, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and two break-ups.

Arizona Christian proved to be a powerhouse program, as they came in ranked No. 12 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) polls making it the second straight game the Poets have taken on a National Top 20 opponent.

The SCIAC opener will take place at home this Saturday, September 30 at 7:00pm against the Claremont Mudd-Scripps Stags (1-1). The Stags are coming off their home-opener, a loss to Washington and Lee University. Poets move to 0-2.

Photo by: Tony Leon/

Poets hang tough with Redlands

Photo by: Tony Leon/
Photo by: Tony Leon/

(Original piece from Whittier College Athletics, Sep. 2017)

By Dan Gudino

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men’s Soccer team hung tough with the Bulldogs of the University of Redlands Saturday as they fell 3-0 at Memorial Stadium.

The Poets slip now to 1-5, 1-4 SCIAC, while Redlands improves to 6-3 and a perfect 6-0 SCIAC.

Whittier managed just one shot on goal for the game and failed to challenge Bulldogs goalie Josh Haskill, while UR forward, Kayon Parsa was involved in all three scores with two goals and two assists.

Parsa capped off his performance when he managed to sneak into the box and tap an assist to the near post to Chase Boone for his second goal of the day.

The Boone and Parsa connection accounted for all scoring plays.

The Poet offense managed to get a number of opportunities throughout the contest but they couldn’t connect as they finished with 10 shots. Within a seven minute window in the first half the Poets were able to get off three shots with the best look coming in the 20th minute when Poet forward, Matteo Loi (Kirkland, WA), took a shot on goal, but fell unlucky as it went straight into the arms of Haskill.

The trend for the Poet soccer ball was “fly high or miss wide” as Whittier went down 1-0 at the half with several shots off the mark as they continued to match Redlands stride for stride. Aggressive play was seen early in the second half, with three straight shots from the Poets within the first nine minutes of play, but again none would get on frame.

Parsa of Redlands scored the first goal in the 13th minute, of the first half, when Whittier tried to defend down in the box, but Parsa managed to sneak in off a poor pass that was ricocheted into his possession, which he then tapped in for the eventual game-winner.

Nathan Armas (Montclair, Calif.) finished the game with three saves playing all 90:00. Loi led the offense with three shots, while Connor Tait-Mole (Livermore, Calif.) added two. The shot differential was close as Redlands edged the Poets 11-10, same with corner kicks at 4-3.

Whittier continues their home stand this Wednesday, September 27 against Caltech with game time set for 7:00pm.

Photo by: Tony Leon/

Poets hold off Oxy on the road 3-1

Photo by: Tony Leon/
Photo by: Tony Leon/


(Original piece from Whittier College Athletics, Sep. 2017)

By Dan Gudino

EAGLE ROCK, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team bounced-back and reclaimed its winning ways with a hard fought conference victory, over Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) rival, Occidental College, 25-22, 25-22, 25-27, 25-16.

Despite going up two-sets to none, the Poets struggled in the third, as they faced their biggest deficit of the entire meeting, 17-10.

Poet head coach Chris Duarte-McDermott, said teams can really turn things around in a match when you agitate a team” as the Poets did in the second — Occidental came within a point of tying the second game at 24, however, Whittier hung on.

“When you win a set the way we did in the second, by escaping and allowing a team to nearly take it back, it could potentially rile-up a team,” Duarte-McDermott said.

But efficient setting from Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.), who had a game-high 30 assists, setup 17 more players than any Poet, and proved to be a major difference in the entire match.

“(Setting) it’s always been the best part of my game, without a doubt. I want to be that player that gets you a set. It’s something I’ve always worked on,” Purdom said.

Purdom’s passing skills and two excellent serves put the Poets within a sweep of the match when they came back to tie the third at 20, and then immediately took the lead, 21-20.

Yet, the Poets slipped with three consecutive ties and lead changes, setting up Occidental for the third-set victory.

The Poets were instantly motivated by the third set loss and reawaked as they cruised to a nine-point win in the final fourth game, 25-16.

The Poet offense was aided by Purdom feeding Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) and Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) in the final game, who both finished with a team-high 14 kills.

“We definitely played down to a team tonight when we allowed the third to slip, but we know it’s us and not what the other team did. We can’t allow ourselves to get too cocky next time. We just have to finish,” Whittall said.

Whittier, now 8-3 and 2-1 in SCIAC is back home this Saturday, September 23 as it faces off against Cal Lutheran University, at 6:00pm. Cal Lutheran is currently on a five-game losing streak.

Whittier finds itself just shy of the top 25 at No. 30.

“It means a lot to get a victory tonight,” explained Duarte-McDermott. It means a lot to our program that we’re in the top 30 and just outside of the top 25. But, in the end, rankings are just opinions and what matters is every single set.”

Article by: Daniel Gudino (Sports Information Office)

K: 2 Players (#12, #24 – 14)
B: Alexis Mills – 5
D: Clarissa Standafer – 15
SA: Camryn Purdom – 3
K: Claire Strohm – 15
B: Cassandra Guidice – 3
D: Claire Strohm – 10
SA: Cassandra Guidice – 3