The humidity in the air wasn’t the only thing bringing the heat in this seasons opening men’s soccer game between the Whittier Poets and the Leopards.
During the first half of the game the Whittier Poets held a strong lead of 4-0. This made for a difficult lead to catch up to early on in the game. The game ended with a 4-2 loss for ULV.
“We put ourselves in a hole really early, it was too much to come up from,” said junior mid-fielder/defender Joshua Hill.
There were many missed opportunities by ULV, but the Leopards continued to claw back into the game.
Whittier’s freshman goalie Darrin Bangle had three saves in the first half, nevertheless the enthusiasm of the fans ran high throughout the bleachers keeping the team’s spirit alive.
“They capitalized on the first half the game. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to catch up,” junior midfielder Ryan Estrada said.
The second half of the game was purely driven by the Leopards desire to turn the scoreboard around and win the game. The Poets were unable to score thanks to senior goalie Jonathyn Lomeli’s five saves in the second half.
In the 44th minute sophomore mid-fielder Boye Christiansen was the first to score from 15 yards out. This harbored plenty of excitement both on the field and in the bleachers.
“We had a slow start, simple mistakes caused goals,” junior defender Andrew Geenen said.
The Leopards battled it out to the very last second of the game, and if the second half of the game showed the team’s motivation to win this will make for a stimulating season.
The following 20 minutes was motivated by the anxiety of Leo fans and players had until Geenen had a penalty kick that led to a goal for the Leopards.
The remainder of the game was fueled by enthusiasm and determination to win, but it still was not enough for the team to win.
La Verne finished the game with a total of 17 fouls and Whittier with 14.
The loss set the Leopards record to an overall record of 2-2-1 and opened up Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with a loss.
“We had a good preseason preparation, Whittier was very organized in their attack.” head coach Crescencio Gonzalez said. “We have young men in the defense playing in SCIAC soccer for their first time, which is a bit faster. We will build from this experience.”
The Leopards will face Caltech at Ortmayer Stadium at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
Monique Millan can be reached at email@example.com.