The Thunder from Illinois rattles the Leopard women.
The women’s soccer team fought hard against the Wheaton College in Illinois on Monday but lost in a tough game against the out of state team.
“They wore us down,” said head coach Wendy Zwissler, “We tried to take on too much.”
La Verne kicked in the first goal less than a minute into the match when Falisha Ramirez ran down the field and struck the ball past Wheaton’s goalie.
After a few back and forth draw on possessions, Wheaton had a burst of momentum when Jaime Orewiler kicked the ball past La Verne goalie Brigette Jennings at 41:59, taking advantage of a pass and the close proximity of the goal to kick it in, tying the match at 1-1.
Wheaton broke ahead of La Verne when Ali Kopelman drove the ball in, and threatened La Verne with another goal, but was thwarted by an excellent save by the La Verne goalie with 35:42 remaining on the clock. The visiting team was nonetheless undaunted, driving in another point in their favor when Brittany Bergh kicked the ball past La Verne’s Jennings once more, which extended their lead to 3-1.
La Verne fought back when Ramirez launched a penalty kick past the goalie to put them within a goal of Wheaton.
Toward the end of the second half, Wheaton slowed down, and La Verne was quick to put the pressure on them, continuing to drive into their territory, and making repeated shots at their goal.
Ramirez had a pair of close shots, one narrowly sailing above the goal, and the other striking the post as the lethargic Wheaton struggled to get La Verne out of their territory.
At halftime, Wheaton led 3-2, but instead of the Leopards putting the heat on Wheaton, it was instead the visiting team that gained a sudden second wind, immediately putting the pressure on the La Verne defense and rarely letting up.
“We had them for most of the game,” said Melissa Pachon, freshman midfielder for the La Verne team.
Wheaton’s aggressive campaign showed little mercy, disrupting nearly all of La Verne’s attempts to get the ball near their goal with solid defensive playing by Wheaton defenders, stealing the ball, doubling up on La Verne players, and kicking the ball out of danger as soon as they could.
However, despite Wheaton’s energetic rebound, Ramirez ran down the line and kicked it past their goalie, tying it at 3-3.
This would be the last goal for La Verne in the game, as the players showed signs of wear and tear from injuries that plagued them through the game and from exertion on the field.
La Verne’s Jennings put up a terrific defense, aggressively defending the goal post with running out and snatching the ball from danger, but Wheaton nonetheless kicked in a goal with 33:42 left on the clock.
In the next 11 minutes, Wheaton would score four more times, extending their lead to an impressive 8-3, from which La Verne never recovered from.
The La Verne team also had a few injured players, leaving few fresh legs on the field.
“We hung in there for a while,” said senior defender Courtney Cooley. “(But) we didn’t really have a full team.”
The women defeated Chapman, 2-1, on Wednesday behind two goals by Ramirez and 12 saves by Jennings.
The Leopards return home to host Pomona-Pitzer at 11 a.m. Saturday, facing off against Cal Lutheran on Oct. 28, 4 p.m, before heading off to Redlands on Oct.31, 11 a.m.
Dan Sayles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.