With the score tied in the second half, Martha Marich, defensive midfielder for Pomona-Pitzer, and Falisha Ramirez (No. 8), forward for La Verne, battled for possession of the ball in Saturday’s game at Ben Hines Field. The confrontation ended in a 3-2 come-from-behind double overtime victory for La Verne. The Leopards play again Saturday against Cal Lutheran at 11 a.m.
Despite the inopportune, yet much appreciated presence of rain, the University of La Verne women’s soccer team pulled off a come-from-behind victory in dramatic fashion last Saturday, bringing its overall record to 5-4 on the season and 3-2 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
Early in the season, the women’s soccer team members had the opportunity to rack up more conference wins than they had wins all last season with a win over Pomona-Pitzer in a rainy showdown at Ben Hines Field that took two overtimes to decide.
Some might consider wet conditions a hindrance in the game of soccer, but according to head coach Wendy Zwissler, “[The rain] was a welcomed relief” to the 100-plus degree weather that the team has become accustomed to over the past couple of weeks.
“It’s amazing. Playing in the rain tests a player’s will of how much they want this game. And Saturday definitely was a test of how much we wanted that ‘W.’” said junior defender Danielle Sumlin.
Junior goalie Tatianna Gutierrez was not as upbeat about playing in the rain, “It scared me a couple times. I was scared I was going to drop the ball. But it was better than it being hot.”
The weather seemingly had no effect on the both teams’ scoring either.
The Sagehens were the first to get on the board with a first half goal by Pomona-Pitzer’s Elli Seo, which remained the lone goal for both sides going into the half.
In the second half, the Leopards came out and tied up the game with a goal by junior forward Falisha Ramirez, who was on the winning end of a one-on-one with Pomona-Pitzer keeper Caroline Flynn.
Only minutes later, Seo put the Leopards behind again after a goal with an assist from Chelsea Muir.
Less then two minutes later, the Leopards fought right back into the game once again with a score by junior midfielder Ashley Cendejas, bringing the game to 2-2.
This score would last through the end of regulation, the first overtime and into the second.
Early in the second overtime, La Verne scoring machine Ramirez found the back of the net for the second time in the game with an assist from sophomore midfielder Ashley Vanga, sealing the Leopards’ victory, 3-2.
“They kept their shape and kept their composure and made the necessary adjustments as a team, which is why we got three goals in the second half of the game,” Zwissler said.
The team has greatly improved from a year ago.
Zwissler attributes the success to “new personnel.”
“We cleaned house, stepped up recruitment. We have good returners, which leads to a deeper bench,” she said.
“Everyone has a positive attitude this year. We are all on the same page on what goals we want to achieve this year. We want to win, but most of all we want to win as a team,” Sumlin said.
“It is an amazing team atmosphere. You can always see us together, whether it’s eating together or helping each other with homework,” said Gutierrez, a transfer from Mt. SAC.
Not only was the win important to the team’s overall record, it was even more crucial to keeping the women in the top four in conference as Pomona-Pitzer now sits only one point back of the Leopards in the tight SCIAC standings.
After the weekend, Redlands and Claremont are tied atop the conference, with La Verne and Occidental tied for third.
“We are one of the top four teams. Where we end up depends on how we play Oxy and Cal Lu,” said Zwissler.
The Leopards defeated Whittier last Wednesday to stay on track to compete for the SCIAC title.
Chris Weedon can be reached at email@example.com.