After their third overtime finish in as many home games, the men’s soccer team lost at home Monday night against the Whittier Poets, 2-1.
The Leopards dropped to a 9-6 overall season record and a 7-6 record in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
The Poets capitalized on the Leopards’ defensive mental lapses throughout regulation and the overtime period.
“We worked really hard as a unit. That’s something we’ve kind of been lacking for the last couple of games at home,” senior defender Jared Taylor said. “I just liked everybody’s intensity out there today.”
The first half of the game remained scoreless, with the team near splitting shots on goal. La Verne had five shots on goal. Whittier had seven.
Defense held up for both teams with the ball bouncing to either side of the field as the players struggled for the first goal.
In the 64th minute, Whittier struck first as senior defender Francis Maxwell capitalized off of a corner kick and put the poets up 1-0.
It would be 17 minutes until another score came.
In the 81st minute, freshman forward Saul Uribe set up for a shot on goal by senior midfielder David Gonzalez tying the score at 1-1.
This would be the final score of regulation as neither team was able to find the back of the net again, sending the game into over time.
Before the crowd even had a chance to settle into their seats, the Poets would retaliate.
Less than a minute into the sudden death period, sophomore forward Dylan Fortin scored the game winner, sealing the 2-1 victory for Whittier.
“I think our let ups in the back were a big difference maker. We kind of just let up whenever the ball was on their end and it kind of caught us in the end,” senior forward Joshua Hill said.
This game also showcased the harsher sides of the SCIAC rivalry.
Following the game, the Poets’ junior defender Willie O’Malley would earn a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct after he removed his shirt in celebration of his team’s victory.
“It was very unsportsmanlike, but to a certain degree it could be a good thing because it could sort of motivate us to hopefully finish out the season strong and get a chance to face these guys again in the playoffs,” assistant coach Phillip Roberts said.
With the loss, La Verne drops to fifth place in the SCIAC standings.
This puts them one place outside the SCIAC playoffs.
The Leopards have three more games remaining on their schedule.
In order to secure their spot in the postseason playoffs, the team plans on winning out.
“This was probably one of the best matches they’ve put together from start to finish for a full 90 minutes. They worked hard in practice this week and did everything we asked them to do,” Roberts said. “We always say that it’s progression, not perfection.”
The Leopards’ next game will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Occidental.
Julian Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.