by Oscar G. Borello
The men’s soccer team played its last game of the season on Saturday and finished with a 4-14-1 record an a 5-0 loss to Master’s College, finishing fourth place in SCIAC East.
The Master’s College Mustangs, from Santa Clarita, came to La Verne like a steamroller and lived up to its ranking as one of the best teams in the country. They are going to the NAIA playoffs.
The game was rife with penalties, miscommunication, and obvious frustration from the Leos.
Much of La Verne’s playing tactics ran right down the middle, with little passing to the outside. There was also the fact that a majority of the game was played in Master’s territory with shots coming to sophomore goalie Matt Robles on a regular basis.
The first score of the game came 28 minutes into the first half, off the foot of Mustang center Dudley Hitchman. Four minutes later, Steven Jannho took a shot from the middle and scored again for Master’s.
Leo senior Greg Tiddle received a yellow card for tripping with 15 minutes left in the half. During that time, Master’s shot seven close shots on goal. Only one connected, from Daniel Leaman.
Robles kept defending the goal as shot after shot pelted him until, mercifully, the half finally came to an end.
As the game resumed, the teams remained deep in La Verne territory and less than five minutes later another goal flew to the back of the net from Brian Lee.
With that, the tension finally broke as a bench-clearing fight broke out.
Throughout the game, Jannho continuously threw elbows, pulled jerseys and pushed at sophomore Darin Soliday, who started the fight. Soliday was on top of Jannho hitting him with fast punches before anyone knew what was going on, and both teams joined in.
Both Jannho and Soliday were ejected from the game after receiving red cards.
Robles said after the game, “Tempers were flaring and the fight just pumped us up some more.”
As play resumed, another yellow card was issued by the referee to the Mustangs. Leaman was cited for tripping with 37 minutes left in the game.
The Mustangs pressed hard. While they were driving up the right side with a clear shot on goal, junior defender Willie Sinon made a huge save as the ball was flying straight for the goal.
Another apparent goal then made it into the net for Master’s, but it was voided by an offsides call.
The game continued to be played in the same manner, with Robles, making saves, stopping several near goals.
Master’s scored the final goal within the last 15 seconds of play, as Brian Richenberger watched the goal pass right by him without as much as a flinch to try to stop the ball.
As time ran out, Jannho ran out to meet with the referee and argue about the penalty for fighting. He and other members of the Master’s side made rude comments of the officiating.
This being Tiddle’s last year playing collegiate soccer, he summed up the season by saying,“It was good and frustrating at the same time. All in all it has been a good four years though.”
Robles finished the season off by saying, “Although it was rough, I played with a great bunch of guys and I had a lot of fun.”
In regards to the game itself he said, ”They were a strong team and we played really well against them, I mean they’re going to the championships.”
Sophomore Eric Gleason reiterated that point by saying, ”We played against a Division II NAIA team really well, but the final game summed up the season for us. It was a learning year that we’re going to have to build on.”