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Leopards take home senior night win

With 29 minutes remaining in the second half, freshman forward Alexa Smith takes the ball across the field just before passing it to teammate Olga Saldivar who scored the winning goal. The Leopards outran the SCIAC leading Regals, 1-0, Saturday during the team’s senior night game.With 29 minutes remaining in the second half, freshman forward Alexa Smith takes the ball across the field just before passing it to teammate Olga Saldivar who scored the winning goal. The Leopards outran the SCIAC leading Regals, 1-0, Saturday during the team’s senior night game. / photo by Uyen Bui

With 29 minutes remaining in the second half, freshman forward Alexa Smith takes the ball across the field just before passing it to teammate Olga Saldivar who scored the winning goal. The Leopards outran the SCIAC leading Regals, 1-0, Saturday during the team’s senior night game. / photo by Uyen Bui

Julian Burrell
Staff Writer

The women’s soccer team upset conference leader Cal Lutheran Saturday evening with a 1-0 victory.

This was the first time the Leopards managed to defeat Cal Lutheran since 2008.

The Leopards final game at home was a back and forth defensive struggle that came down to a mistake from the Cal Lutheran Regals to give the Leopards the victory.

“To come out here and get a win that I’d been wanting for four years, it means a lot. It means so much more than just a win to me,” senior defender Brianna Romero said.

Romero was one of six seniors that were honored for the final home game of the season including defender Katherine Careaga, forward Nancy Rodriguez, forward Marisella Macias, forward Olga Saldivar and midfielder Christine Camacho.

“We’re honoring our six seniors who have put a lot of effort and into the program,” head coach Lauren Pehanich said. “I’m happy with their soccer and with their effort. This is the first time they’ve beat Cal Lutheran ever so I know they’re very excited about this win.”

It was an emotional night for the team as they took part in their final game at home.

All players reflected on the years that seniors had worked for culminating in this long sought after win.

“They’ve literally had a different head coach every year so for them to go out on such a high note after so much adversity from this season and to the first season they’ve been in is just awesome, it’s everything,” junior goalkeeper Delanie Pacheco said.

La Verne and Cal Lutheran remained scoreless for the entire first half.

Pacheco made 3 saves on the day and weathered a constant offensive game plan from the Regals.

For 90 minutes, Pacheco frequently dove on the ball and snatched it from the air to avoid any goals.

“From the first kick off we were together,” Pacheco said. “We knew what we wanted to do. Even though we were getting pressured we still stuck with it and didn’t give up.”

The only goal of the day came in the 61st minute when Saldivar tapped in a shot on goal from Marisella Macias.

Regals’ junior goalkeeper Kristin Bailey fumbled the shot, with the ball landing right on the line only for Saldivar to tap it in for the finish to put the Leopards up by one.

For the rest of the game the Leopards played strict defense, constantly avoiding corner kicks and various other attempts that nearly led to goals.

Though the Leopards were outshot on the day 14-9, both teams only managed to put up three attempts on target.

Saldivar led the offensive effort with three shots on goal.

“This was a really big jump to go over Cal Lutheran since they’re number one team right now,” Pehanich said.

The Leopards defeated the Whittier Poets 3-0 Wednesday.

La Verne received goals from freshman forward Alexa Smith, senior forward Marisella Macias, and junior defender Dina Tomina.

With the victory the Leopards improve to 9-9-1 overall and 6-6-1 in the Southern California Intercolleg­iate Athletic Conference.

Cal Lutheran is now 15-4 overall on the season and an 11-2 record on SCIAC.

Combined with the win and a Chapman loss, La Verne moves up to fourth place in the SCIAC standings.

The Leopards are currently on a season-high three game win streak.

With their season coming to a close with only one more away games, this win has the Leopards’ playoff hopes reinvigorated.

La Verne closes its regular season on the road against Chapman at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Julian Burrell can be reached at julian.burrell@laverne.edu.

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