During the first half, defender Kai Werring of Cal Lutheran goes head-to-head with Matt Dominguez (No. 5) defensive midfielder for La Verne. Saturday’s game ended with the Leopards on top of the Kingsmen in overtime, 2-1. The game was a tough, physical contest marked by injuries for the Kingsmen. Last Wednesday, La Verne lost to Occidental, 2-0, to bring its overall record to 6-4-3.
For the first time this season, the La Verne men’s soccer team was able to find that elusive “golden goal” during overtime in order to propel them to victory over Cal Lutheran, 2-1, on Saturday.
“The team as a whole believed they could win. I was impressed how they fought for that goal. They worked hard, and they earned it.” La Verne men’s head soccer coach Crescencio Gonzalez said.
This was the fourth overtime game for the Leopards this season, with the other three all resulting in double overtime ties.
“Overall, we play as a team. We played much better then last time. We’ve been scoring more. It’s nice to see the ball go in the net after a few scoreless games. Our forwards are finally scoring.”
The Kingsmen were the first to get on the board in the game as their leading scorer, Ryan McDermott, slipped one past the defense off a defensive mistake with a pass from Matt Fernandez.
It looked as though it would be a repeat result of the 4-1 Kingsmen win earlier in the season.
The Leopards fought back hard and got a goal of their own with two minutes remaining in the half off a monster throw in from defender Kyle Piper to senior midfielder Matt Dominguez who hooked a header right around the Cal Lutheran goalie.
The goalie was injured on the play and did not return to the game.
The back up filled in nicely, keeping the Leopards scoreless through the second half.
However, after the overtime began, they would not be denied the game-winning goal by sophomore forward Hector Lepe, with an assist from sophomore Angel De Alba early into the overtime period.
“It felt awesome. [In overtime the] first goal wins and to see the ball go into the goal was awesome. We got to show our true skill. We rushed the field, and it felt great,” sophomore defender Wesley Lucas said.
“Throughout the season, our defense has done very well. Mr. De Alba and Mr. Lucas have done an extremely tremendous job as defenders,“ Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez added that he felt his team has as a whole played well.
Our strikers are beginning to come alive and help out.” said freshman goalie Austin Neiheiser.
The Leopards lost to third place Occidental, 2-0, in Eagle Rock last Wednesday and are currently in fifth place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
La Verne has a tough matchup ahead of them as they travel into Redlands tomorrow to try and avenge a 3-0 loss from the last time the teams played.
Gonzalez credits the success to the team’s ability to work together.
“They are willing to play with each other. It took a few more weeks than expected. We will be successful if we continue to play together.” he said.
Lucas added, “Our next few games are all tough games. We’re taking it one game at a time. We’re going into this stretch with a lot of momentum after beating one of the top teams.”
“If we keep working hard, if we keep working together, we control our destiny” Gonzalez said.
Chris Weedon can be reached at email@example.com.