Coming off a 4-0 loss to Redlands on Oct. 9, the men’s soccer team came out with a desire to beat Occidental and it was apparent from its physical play they would not settle for anything less than a win.
The Leopards took care of the Tigers, 4-0, on Wednesday at Ben Hines Field.
From the start of the game it was obvious that La Verne was not only physically stronger but it also had the mental edge over Occidental.
“We played as a team,” senior defenseman Angel De Alba said. “We played hard and came out strong in the first 10 minutes.”
Senior forward Taylor Hart took a chance by taking a shot from the 18-yard line after getting a pass from forward Michael Mancilla, and it paid off as he gave La Verne an early 1-0 lead.
The Leopards’ second goal came in the 26th minute on a shot by freshman forward Abdullah Alharshan.
Occidental had their chance to score when senior midfielder Kosa Goucher-Lambert took the Tigers’ first shot, but La Verne sophomore goalkeeper Jonathyn Lomeli blocked the shot.
The Tigers also had their chance on multiple throw-ins, but they could not get the ball to go in the net.
Their inability to score led to obvious frustrations as senior goalkeeper Ian Powell unnecessarily took down a La Verne player, which earned him the games first yellow card.
Occidental look tired and worn out as the second half came to an end.
The players would either fall to the ground on any slight shove or throw an elbow to try and knock down the La Verne players.
This gave them multiple free kicks and a second to catch their breaths.
“They couldn’t hang with us,” sophomore defenseman Victor Serrano said. “They would foul us on every other play.”
“Last time they came out very physical,” Hart said. “We knew they would come out hard this time around.”
La Verne would go into half-time with a 2-0 lead and they would not let up in the second half.
The Occidental players tried to rally each other with continuous chants of “Let’s go Oxy,” but even that could not help them.
“They were playing very dirty,” Serrano said.
The Tigers let their emotions get the best of them and in the 48th minute freshman Oliver Field took down La Verne senior forward Nahavi Mendoza inside of the box, which resulted in a penalty kick.
Giving the Leopards a commanding 3-0 lead.
“We watch each other’s backs,” De Alba said. “We play for each other.”
Freshman midfielder Ulises Espinoza would add one more goal for La Verne.
“It was definitely one of our best games of the season,” sophomore midfielder Peter Careaga said.
The Leopards will try to keep the momentum going at 1 p.m. tomorrow at home against Whittier.
Elsie Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.