Trio earns honors

Posted Nov. 17, 2006

Every road has its twists, turns, bumps and potholes, but the road the 2006 La Verne women’s soccer team traveled seemed to be under complete reconstruction.

The Leopards placed fifth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, a spot up from last season, by finishing 5-6 in conference and 5-13-1 overall in the season.

A trio of Leopards earned 2006 All SCIAC Team honors. Freshman defender Danielle Sumlin earned first team honors, while seniors Mercedes Bermudez and Amber Lejay made the second team.

“We had three or four knee injuries to deal with, a couple of ankles,” head coach Wendy Zwissler said. “Because of that we had to take six starters out.”

With all those players missing, it took the Leopards four games to reach their first win against Cal Lutheran, and their 12th game overall to reel in their first home win against Whittier.

“[Injuries] definitely affected us,” junior midfielder/forward Penney Burcham said. “I was injured at the start of the season, but it’s just part of the game and we dealt with it the best we could.”

Bermudez, a defender/midfielder, thought that the injuries during the season were a major factor in the team’s play.

“The injuries were definitely a big blow,” Bermudez said. “But we adjusted and did the best that we could.”

Zwissler believes that the best word to describe this season’s team would be “tenacious.”

“They never quit despite the odds. They always worked hard, and were ferocious competitors.”

Though the season didn’t turn out the way the team could have hoped for in any respect, it was not at all wasted time on the part of the players.

“It was emotional,” Bermudez said. “We had our ups and our downs. It’s my senior year and now I don’t want to leave.”

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Britt also very much enjoyed her time spent on the ULV soccer team.

“I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to play in college,” Britt said. “It’s been a blessing, especially getting to play with this group of girls and this coaching staff. There’s a lot of love in this group.”

While Zwissler realizes that this isn’t the kind of note the seniors would have liked to go out on, she was able to put a positive spin on the situation.

“It’s definitely a bummer for the older ones, the seniors, but it’s a blessing for the young ones,” Zwissler said. “It gave them lots of experience.”

“This season was definitely a big learning experience for everyone,” Burcham said. “It became a rebuilding year.”

However, this team was able to enjoy one last achievement together before the season ended and the seniors left their college soccer years behind.

“We won the last home game of the season for the seniors,” Burcham said.

Kevin Zeni can be reached at

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