by Scott Harvey
Although La Verne seemed to have the momentum all game long against Whittier last Saturday, in the second overtime period they were defeated 5-4 on a rally by the Poets.
The La Verne team controlled the ball well in the first half and set up opportunities on both sides of the field.
As five minutes had expired on the game clock the Leopards struck their first scoring opportunity as senior fullback Eric Gleason booted a looping shot which landed directly in front of mid-fielder Aaron Jones who redirected the ball into the Poets’ goal to lead 1-0.
La Verne’s tough defense was not enough as Whittier made excellent plays downfield as the half progressed and eventually scored when mid-fielder Mike Torres penetrated the defense and tapped in a short roller passed senior goalkeeper Tim Kyle.
“We controlled the game early, but we had trouble keeping the ball away from their forwards,” said head coach Mike Collins.
ULV mid-fielder Armando Hernandez set up the next goal as he fired a looping pass from midfield right to the foot of Jones who lifted the ball over the Whittier goalkeeper and into the net. La Verne went up, 2-1.
The Poets did not take the Leopards lightly as time was running out in the half and they eventually scored on a passing shot by forward Ian Hughes evening the score again at 2-2.
“Just when we thought that we had control of the score they would charge back and tie it up,” said Kyle.
Whittier turned the tables three minutes after its tying goal when they scored again off a rocketed shot by mid-fielder Eric Grobe. The Poets were on top 3-2 leading into the second half, and La Verne was left wondering what happened to their lead as they headed off the field.
“We let them control the pace late in the first half and we struggled to catch up all game,” said Collins.
The big moment for La Verne came with five minutes left on the game clock as Hernandez used his skills again and scored on a pass from Jones, tying the game and eventually sending the teams to overtime.
In the first 15-minute overtime. Whittier hit the La Verne goal early as forward Scott Manson scored on a penalty kick, putting the Poets up, 4-3.
The second overtime period proved to be all Whittier, who scored early on a breakaway shot by mid-fielder Claudio Ingrassia, boosting the lead to 5-3. La Verne did, however, score again when Jones lifted a shot over the defense and into the Poets’ goal, his third goal of the game, but it was not enough as Whittier won, 5-4.
La Verne ended their regular season this week Wednesday with a record of 2-13, not a stand out figure, but according to head coach Collins, if effort and heart was measured this team would top the rankings.