La Verne forward Falisha Ramirez (No. 8) shoots and scores her third goal of the game during the second half against the Whittier Poets during Saturday’s game at Ben Hines Field. Stephanie Bergstrom, a defender for the Poets, braces to block the ball.
Despite a strong finish in the regular season, the University of La Verne women’s soccer team lost in its playoff opener to the Redlands Bulldogs, 3-0, Wednesday night.
With the final conference game of the regular season upon them, the women made a strong statement to the other teams in conference, going into the conference tournament by defeating the Whittier Poets, 8-0.
“It was a really good game of soccer. We passed well, took lots of good shots and defended well as a team,” junior defender Danielle Sumlin said.
Despite a final score that could be confused with that of a football game, the game had a slow start with only one goal coming in the first half.
During the half, the seniors on the team were recognized, including Ashly Gillis, Kaitlin Hildred, Kelly Frey and Lauren Vanga.
Whether it was the halftime speech of coach Wendy Zwissler or the emotion of the halftime presentation, the women came out fired up and ready to take control of the game.
As the clouds opened up and rain began to pour onto Ben Hines Field, the floodgates opened, and La Verne went on a scoring spree.
It began with junior forward Falisha Ramirez, who scored three goals in a span of seven minutes, bringing the Leopard lead to 4-0.
The scoring would not end there and would come in every way possible.
In the 70th minute, after some fancy footwork, junior midfielder Ashley Cendejas was rewarded with a penalty kick and would take advantage, finding the back of the net.
Two minutes later, junior defender Courtney Cooley forced a long ball past the Poet goalie.
Next, it was a corner kick by Cooley that was beautifully headed into the goal by freshman midfielder Jessica Schob, which brought the score to 7-0.
As if seven goals were not enough, junior goalkeeper Tatianna Gutierrez got herself into the action, threading a pass behind the Whittier defense to the back up goalie, sophomore Caitlin Kams.
Ramirez replaced Gutierrez in goal after scoring her second hat trick of the year.
“Instead of talking about how much we wanted to win, we finally showed it for once. It’s the whole team; we’re coming out and having fun. We let loose,” said Ramirez.
“We beat them 3-0 the first time we played them. We always play them well here [Ben Hines Field]. The win gets us into the final four, so we’re excited.” Zwissler said about the 8-0 win.
In regards to the playoffs: “Were playing Redlands, Claremont or Cal Lu. We have some girls coming in who were in rehab who were starters, so that should really help us. We’re a much different team [from a year ago] Our only problem is we can’t defend well,” Zwissler said.
The Leopards first playoff game came against conference leader Redlands on Wednesday night in Redlands.
“I think we are going to be considered the underdog, but we are going to work really hard, and it should be a good game,” Sumlin said going into Wednesday’s game.
“When we started the season, we were the underdogs and were never expected to make the playoffs, but we proved people wrong. Tonight [Wednesday night], we’re just going to try and prove them wrong again,” Ramirez said about the game in Redlands.
Chris Weedon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.