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Leopards gain confidence with their first win

La Verne builds on an early lead to top Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 4-1.

La Verne forward Nahavi Mendoza steals the ball from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps player Frederick Doar during the second half of Saturday’s game at Ben Hines Field. Doar quickly recovered it. The Leopards went on to chase down the Stags and win the game, 4-1. The men, who are 2-1 in conference and 2-5 overall, play their next match at 11 a.m. Saturday at Caltech. / photo by Rafael Anguiano

La Verne forward Nahavi Mendoza steals the ball from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps player Frederick Doar during the second half of Saturday’s game at Ben Hines Field. Doar quickly recovered it. The Leopards went on to chase down the Stags and win the game, 4-1. The men, who are 2-1 in conference and 2-5 overall, play their next match at 11 a.m. Saturday at Caltech. / photo by Rafael Anguiano

Kevin Garrity
Managing Editor

The men’s soccer team won its first game of the 2009 season Saturday, after it scored three first half goals and never relinquished the lead.

The Leopards defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 4-1, in a Southern California Inter­collegiate Athletic Conference match at Ben Hines Field.

“The guys are now doing the things that the coaching staff is telling them,” head coach Crescencio Gonzalez said. “And that will continue to give us results.”

The Leopards scored first on a Ruben Trujillo goal in the 21st minute of the first half.

“It was a great pass from the right side of the field,” senior midfielder Trujillo said. “Once I got the ball I separated from the defender and took the shot.”

The shot was fired from 30 yards out and was driven on a line into the back of the net, denying the Stags goalie a chance of blocking it.

Later in the first half, junior forward/defender Taylor Hart had an opportunity to score but missed his shot wide right.

However, Hart’s next opportunity did not go to waste as he won the ball in the air, beat the last defender and blasted one by the goalie, putting La Verne up, 2-0.

Within the next minute of play, the Stags answered with a goal of their own on a shot by Ian Anderson to cut the Leopard lead to 2-1.

That was the closest Claremont would get the remainder of the game, as junior forward Mike Mancilla scored with five minutes left in the first half, to increase the lead to 3-1 going into halftime.

The Leopards put the outcome of the game out of question when senior midfielder Bryan Mejia crossed a ball near the goal that was headed in by junior forward Nahavi Mendoza.

ULV’s defense would handle the rest, not allowing another goal the rest of the game and securing the victory, 4-1.

Hart was instrumental in the game, scoring a goal in the first half, and then playing shut-down defense in the second.

“We finally started to control the ball in the middle of the field,” Hart said. “We were able to move the ball forward a lot today.”

“We did really well with Taylor in the back,” freshman goalie Jonathyn Lomeli said. “He gives us a lot of confidence when he drops back as a defender.”

Lomeli tallied four saves during the game.

“We finally started knocking the ball around today,” Trujillo said. “We finally started finding our confidence.”

The Leopards defeated Whittier on Wednesday, 1-0, for its second SCIAC win.

La Verne will be back in action at 11 a.m. Saturday when it travels to Caltech for another conference match.

Kevin Garrity can be reached at kevin.garrity@laverne.edu.

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