Second place for many athletic teams is an honor, maybe even a tribute. For the University of La Verne soccer team, second place takes on a different connotation.
The Leopards finished their 1981 season with a 7-7-3 overall record. These strikers sported a 3-2-1 SCIAC record which was good enough to tie with Pomona-Pitzer for second place. So why the post-season blues?
Head Coach Dave Goldstein at tributes his players’ depression to the fact that he felt they did not play to their full potential.
“The players should be depressed when they did not play up to their potentials,” said Goldstein. “We did lose most our matches, and the worst is losing a game that you should have won.”
Goldstein could not have been more accurate in his assessment of the season by “losing a game we should have won.” For the Leopards, that is where the frustration lies. Every contest that the Leos lost, they could have won, the scores were so marginally close.
The Leos were considered a top contender for the league champion ship at the start of the season. They had a highly skilled roster that was healthy and had considerable depth. The year 1981 could have been the Leos’ year, as most players whole heartedly believed.
Then the problems started. The Leos started their season with a tie against Point Loma. Their second match ended in the Leos’ first loss of the season, 3-1 loss to Azusa Pacific.
“Starting off the season with an 0-1-1 record really got a lot of us down. We should have beaten Paint Loma, even Azusa. We clearly dominated the games, but our shooting was off even when we had ample opportunities to score,” said captain Randy Bush.
“We were supposed to develop a winning team. But it takes years of training,” Robert Noboa said. “We did not have enough team experience. We were all new to each other at the start, now we know how each of us plays because of the experience together. We made stupid mistakes; we lacked experience.”
Striker Gerard Solorzano believed that one of the team’s problems was inconsistency.
“Sometimes the team was on and we would really be on, but then sometimes we could not pull it together,” he said. “It seemed all the teams scored on us first, and as a result, we had to play with this pressure to overcome the game. It was hard for us to come off a loss.
When we were down, we really were down. Two years in a row now we have come so close to first place. I really do not know what happened.” “When we put it together, the team would flare,” said Don Todd.
The Leos proved their championship caliber by defeating the 18th ranked team in the nation, Biola, 3-1.
This victory marked the highest point of the Leos’ season.
Another problem the Leos faced was injuries. La Verne’s ace goal keeper Dave Platt was seriously injured midway through the
This was a period filled with depression and frustration for the Leos. Platt was not just a goalie but one of the team’s leaders, captain as voted by his teammates. His in jury devastated the team. But freshman relief goalie Tom Comeau filled in the remainder of the season and did a good job, statistically.
So what’s next for the Leos? The players are now preparing to compete in private soccer clubs, teams or just any kind of recreational and organized soccer. Coach Goldstein is preparing for his third season as head soccer coach at Bonita High School.
As for Goldstein’s future as head coach at La Verne, it is still up in the air. He said he would love to stay at ULV so he can set the record straight by making his team tougher than ever before. He would like tel see ULV win the championship that it deserves. And he would love to be a part of the championship. But due to econ9mic factors, Goldstein said coaching at La Verne may not be in his future.