Many hopes and dreams were crushed when the men’s soccer team fell to the visiting Sagehens from Pomona-Pitzer 3-1 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Saturday at Ben Hines Field.
The Leopards had to win four of their last five games to make it to the playoffs and it all came down to a battle with the Pomona-Pitzer for that last spot. The Leopards had beaten the Sagehens the previous Monday, but decide to change up their game play.
“There was a change in strategy and when we played them on Monday. We played our game and when we played on Saturday we played a new formation that we didn’t practice much,” Fernando Almejo, freshman midfielder, said.
Pomona-Pitzer was able to get on the board when Zach Mirman scored the first goal of the game in the 34th minute. Pomona threatened to score again shortly after but was called offsides.
The Leopards were able to tie up the game in the third minute of the half when forward Taylor Hart made a beautiful shot from a distance away tying the score 1-1.
With both teams fighting for the last playoff spot, it was sure to be a very physical second half, and that’s exactly what it was. La Verne and Pomona-Pitzer would combine for a total of 27 fouls in the game. The Sagehens also received three yellow cards and the Leopards received two yellow cards and a red card.
“They really got cheated by the refs. They made horrible calls,” freshman women’s soccer player Julia Borges said.
The red card came in the second half when freshman goalie Jonathyn Lomeli struck one of the Sagehens in the face with his elbow. He was originally given a yellow card, but was then given a red card and was ejected from the game. Pomona would then go on to make the ensuing penalty shot pushing their led to 2-1.
“I was pretty disappointed,” Jared Taylor, freshman defender, said. “We had them but that red card killed us and it really hurt our chances of winning the game. It was hard playing with a man down.”
“In the game it made us frustrated because we were close and it kind of put us on the spot,” Almejo said. “He didn’t lose the game for us, everybody that played in the game made mistakes.”
The Leopards continued to battle throughout the game but just couldn’t get a break. Taylor along with other players had great shots on goal but the Pomona goalie Rollie Thayer made better saves.
Pomona was able to put the game out of reach in the final minutes of the half when Danny Nasry broke away from defenders and put the ball in the back of the net.
“Our team had the talent to make it but there were a few setbacks,” Almejo said. “It wasn’t that the effort wasn’t there, it was just some things didn’t go our way.”
At the end of the game La Verne recognized and honored seniors Angel De Alba, Taylor Hart, Luis De Luna, Mika Mancilla, Nahavi Mendoza, Kyle Piper and Donn Capps. The Leopards end their season 6-10-1 overall and 6-8 in SCIAC.
Justin Davis-Battle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.