After a long physical battle and two overtimes, La Verne’s men’s soccer team earned their first win of the season against the Occidental Tigers, 1-0.
It was in the 114th minute when Nahavi Mendoza broke the 0-0 tie by scoring the game-winning goal to defeat the Tigers.
Mendoza played very well for the Leopards throughout the entire game with a total of nine shots and one goal.
“They played with a lot of heart,” said Briana Romero, freshman women’s soccer player. “You could tell that they wanted it more.”
La Verne came out the gate very strong threatening to score numerous times in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Even though the game was scoreless at the end of regulation, La Verne was able to control the game offensively by out shooting the Tigers 18-8.
This was a very aggressive game with La Verne recording 17 fouls and two yellow cards and Occidental getting 18 fouls and one yellow card.
One yellow card came in the 20th minute of the first half from Mario Cisneros as he slammed into Occidental midfielder Kosa Goucher-Lambert while going for the ball.
Both players were laid out on the ground in pain. Goucher-Lambert then proceeded to yell and curse at the referee while being taken off the field by trainers.
In the 29th minute, Occidental’s midfielder threatened to score but goalie Jonathyn Lomeli came up big making one of his five saves.
The Leopards defense looked very strong throughout the entire game and only allowed eight shots.
After the half, freshman midfielder Joshua Hill pushed the ball up field and had a chance to score but was not able to finish with a goal.
Going into the first overtime, the Leopards felt very confident about their chances because they knew what kind of condition they were in.
“We practice longer than most teams in our conference for situations like this,” Lomeli, sophomore goalie, said. “The coaches kept telling us that we were going to win this game,” Lomeli said.
The Leopards moved the ball very well during the first overtime and continued to be very aggressive but were still unable to score.
It was easy to see that the team is building chemistry and trusting in each other.
“They passed the ball well and were very organized and on the same page,” William Romero said. “Their defense has really improved since the first time I saw them play this year.”
Heading into the second overtime of the game the Leopards seemed to have all of the energy in the world.
They were jumping up and down and shouting while Occidentals players seemed lifeless on the sideline.
The cheering coming from the La Verne bench seemed to give the Leopards the extra boost of energy they needed.
“They were so hype after the first overtime,” Romero said. “I could tell they were going to win.”
And win was exactly what they did. In the fourth minute of the second overtime Mendoza broke away from defenders and finished the game by beating the goalie one-on-one.
“That win gave so much confidence for the rest of the season,” Lomeli said.
The Leopards (1-3-1) will continue Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Whittier (3-2-1).
Justin Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.