Despite many chances in the offensive third of the field for the Leopards, they fell to the visiting Whittier Poets on Saturday by a score of 1-0.
La Verne enjoyed opportunities to score time and again but could not convert due to an inability to keep the ball on the ground, the eight offsides calls by the officials and only managing to get four out of 17 shots on target.
“We just needed to possess the ball a little better and connect and finish our opportunities,” sophomore forward Marisella Macias said.
Throughout the first half the Leopards held most of the possession and found their first opportunity in the ninth minute.
Freshman forward Tara Cofer attacked down and shot the ball wide from the right wing.
A minute later Cofer crossed the ball to Macias, who hit the woodwork before an immediate return by freshman midfielder Jamie Weaver was saved by Poet goalkeeper Shanna Falch.
“We need to fine tune our shooting and it’s going to be worked on in the training sessions,” interim head coach Eddy Geenen said.
Whittier’s first opportunity came in the 16th minute when a cross from the right side was headed over the cage.
On the next offensive possession the visitors were awarded a penalty kick after a tackle by junior defender Sarah Ruden in the penalty box.
In what proved to be one of a couple of highlights during the game, freshman goalkeeper Delanie Pacheco blocked the shot and kept the game scoreless.
“I thought she was going to kick it the other way,” Pacheco said. “I thought she was going to psych herself out, she took a long time to prepare herself.”
After another failed chance by the home team, the Poets maintained the majority of the possession for the remainder of the half.
At the restart La Verne played strong in the early minutes on both sides of the ball until the 62nd minute. The Poets broke through the defense, making an attempt that was saved by Pacheco. But the rebound was put away by sophomore midfielder Ashlin Steele for her first goal of the season.
“It was a breakdown on our right side of the field,” Geenen said. “They exposed us with a quick counter attack. They earned it.”
“We got scored on because our defenders didn’t follow their marks,” Pacheco said.
As the match wore on, the Leopards saw a relentless amount of chances that led to nine more shots in the half.
In the 69th minute, a through ball by freshman defender Taylor-Erin Carter was collected by freshman forward Krystal Gutierrez.
The substitute who came on in the 62nd tried for a finish that slid harmlessly wide of the far post.
With 10 seconds remaining in the contest, La Verne found its most exciting chance to equalize. Sophomore forward McKenna Gooden took a shot from 18 yards out that curved into the crossbar. The rebound fluttered over two Leopards’ heads and before another could put the ball into the goal for the equalizer, time expired.
“We need to learn from this experience and prepare for Pomona-Pitzer,” Macias said. “We need to establish a rhythm early so we can set the tone.”
“Finishing, just finishing and focus and tempo,” sophomore defender Katherine Careaga said.
Looking forward, Geenen has high hopes for his team.
“We need to solidify our defense and make sure our communication keeps improving,” Geenen said. “We provided the strikers with plenty of opportunities but could not find the back of the net. I know we can because they are great girls.”
On Wednesday La Verne paid a visit to the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer. The Leopards fell to the third-place team in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference by a 3-0 margin.
La Verne was led on the offensive end by junior midfielder Melissa Pachon with two shots.
On the defensive end, Pacheco tallied five saves in 90 minutes of play, bringing her total to 76 on the season.
La Verne finished with six shots, one corner kick and 13 fouls on the game.
The Sagehens finished with 18 shots, two corner kicks and almost matched the Leopards in fouls with 10.
Careaga was booked for a yellow card in the 30th minute, her first of the season.
The loss puts the Leopards’ record at 2-8-3 overall and 1-7 in the SCIAC.
La Verne goes on the road again at 7 p.m. tomorrow to face the fifth-place Occidental Tigers in Eagle Rock.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at email@example.com.