The men’s soccer team easily defeated Caltech 4-0 in their Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference match on Wednesday at Ortmayer Stadium.
The Leopards second half offensive explosion was the difference as they scored three of the four goals in the last 45 minutes of play.
“We played hard, we played well,” head coach Crescencio Gonzalez said. “We got the victory we expected to get.”
With the Leopards ahead 1-0 in the second half, senior midfielder Joshua Hill scored off a penalty kick in 71st minute giving La Verne some breathing room at 2-0.
“I just wanted to put it away,” Hill said. “Getting that goal allowed more players to get into the game as well.”
In the 78th minute sophomore midfielder Ko Yajima scored an unassisted goal giving La Verne a 3-0 lead.
It was Yajima’s second goal in just his second game played this season.
“I wanted to show coach I can get in the game and play,” Yajima said. “I made the most of my opportunities.”
Just as the Leopard faithful finished celebrating Yajima’s goal La Verne scored once more as senior midfielder Fernando Almejo scored off a header after the ball was crossed into the box by freshman midfielder Lorenzo Leyva in the 80th minute. This gave the Leopards a 4-0 lead sealing the victory.
La Verne had many missed opportunities in the first half. The team’s only first half goal came in the 22nd minute from freshman forward Nathan Gonzalez.
It was Gonzalez’s third goal of the season.
“We struggled to find ourselves at first and to score in the box,” Almejo said. “But, once we got going we were able to put the game away and get the win.”
The Leopards’ defense and ability to win the time of possession kept the Beavers scoring chances to a minimum.
Caltech’s best chance to score came in the 65th minute of play Beavers’ sophomore forward Alex Sands had a breakaway opportunity to score, but his shot was saved by sophomore goal keeper Darrin Bangle. Freshman goalkeeper David Lopez played the first half for the Leopards recording three saves for La Verne’s defensive efforts as well.
With the win, the Leopards improve to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the SCIAC placing them in a tie for fourth with Redlands.
“We just got to take it one game at a time,” Almejo said. “We can’t let up and let it get to our heads.”
The Leopards will look to add to their win total as they face Chapman on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Ortmayer Stadium. Chapman is currently 1-2 in SCIAC, just behind La Verne in the standings.
“We have to come out ready to play,” Gonzalez said. “We have to make sure that we score those opportunities that we missed today.”
Julian Mininsohn can be reached at email@example.com.