The men’s soccer team had to settle for a 2-2 tie against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, despite heated back-and-forth competition from both sides.
The Leopards had recently fallen into an losing streak following its victory in the season opener against the University of Dallas.
For the next three games, Pomona-Pitzer, Occidental and Cal Lutheran consistently denied the Leopards victory.
“The past couple of weeks, we’ve had trouble getting cohesion between the guys,” sophomore defender Jared Taylor said.
The game started out intensely, with La Verne playing heavy offense in the first half, putting pressure on the Claremont players and keeping the ball in opposing territory.
Their tenacity was rewarded in the 10th minute when sophomore forward Luis Chavez scored a goal from 20 yards out with assistance from sophomore midfielder Ryan Estrada.
For the next several minutes, La Verne junior goalkeeper Jonathyn Lomeli kept Claremont frustrated with a multitude of saves to secure La Verne’s lead for much of the first half.
Lomeli went on to make a total of 14 saves for the Leopards over the course of the game.
However, the Claremont offense broke through the La Verne defense and scored their first goal of the game with only a few minutes left in the first half, albeit in controversial fashion.
“It really seemed like the ball went out on the cross (before it went into the goal),” Taylor said.
Indeed, the Leopards seemed at odds with many of the referee’s decisions throughout the game and went on to earn 17 fouls throughout the game, 12 more than the five the stags received.
“There were a few controversial calls, but what can you do,” Taylor said.
“You’ve got to play through it.”
The bad luck for the Leopards continued into the second half, as they suffered their second lost goal to Claremont, giving the stags the 2-1 lead.
La Verne played heavy defense for most of the half but was consistently unable to match the goal.
With less than two minutes left and when all seemed lost for the Leopards, sophomore forward Abdullah Alharshan followed up on a cross made by Estrada from 3 feet out and tied up the game 2-2, setting up the game for overtime.
This was the final goal of game.
Early in overtime, La Verne came out aggressively , working to ensure their victory.
At one point sophomore midfielder Fernando Almejo made what appeared to be a game-winning goal, but the Leopard’s unfortunate run with referees continued as the call was made that Almejo was offsides.
The Leopards finished with four offsides calls compared to the Stags’ two.
Later in the first part of overtime, Almejo suffered from hamstring problems from an injury in an earlier game and went down.
Notwithstanding this injury, Almejo continued to play.
“I had to keep going.” Almejo said.
“This is my team, my family. This is where I belong.”
Both teams defense prevented any scoring, triggering double overtime.
Despite multiple attempts from both Claremont and La Verne, double overtime again was scoreless, ending the game with a 2-2 tie.
The final score may not have been a win, but the Leopards showed no signs of disappointment and came away with valuable insight for the future.
“We learned to be more patient to get better goals,” said Lomeli.
“We’ll get more attacks and start from the bottom (to get better).”
While the conclusion may not have been exactly the results that the team was hoping for, the Leopards made great strides in ensuring that this draw would yield many victories.
“We definitely played much more like a team today, like a family,” Taylor said.
La Verne’s next game will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Damien High School against the Caltech Beavers.
Julian Burrel can be reached at email@example.com.