La Verne struggled to find its momentum with many lost opportunities from shots on goal to counter attacks on both ends as it fell short to Cal Lutheran Wednesday at Las Flores Park, 11-5.
“We couldn’t adjust. I never doubt the girls’ efforts, their hearts are in the right place, but confusion out there led to counter attacks,” head coach Alex La said.
La Verne started out strong and won the opening sprint followed by a relay of shots on goal that did not sink until Cal Lutheran senior Bobby Sanders scored in the first three minutes of the game.
One minute later, Cal Lutheran junior Jane Galluzzi earned the Regals its second goal of the game as the shot clock expired.
On a power play, freshman attacker Bethie Ross put the Leopards on the scoreboard in the first quarter with her first of three goals in the game.
By halftime the offensive strength of Cal Lutheran set the score at 6-3.
The Leopards struggled offensively with numerous shots hitting the posts, missing the goal and Cal Lutheran senior goalie Rachel Hahn chalking up eight saves.
What lost the game for La Verne aside from the missed shots on goal was Cal Lutheran’s wave of counter attacks.
“They did a good job of pressing so we couldn’t pass into our normal play,” freshman attacker Alex Escobar said.
Cal Lutheran’s defense continued to press for the rest of the game as La Verne’s defense was not on point.
La Verne strung plays together in the second quarter combining two goals from junior center Brianna DiCarlo and Escobar.
La Verne was quiet in the third quarter with no goals, but Cal Lutheran took advantage with three additional goals posted bringing the deficit to 9-3.
Off a pass from Escobar, Ross found an opportunity for the Leopards and drew exclusion then drew a penalty, resulting in a missed penalty shot by Escobar.
Ross pounded the momentum in the fourth quarter by scoring two additional goals with one being a penalty shot.
Cal Lutheran added two more goals in the fourth quarter sealing the game at 11-5.
It was a frustrating game for La Verne to play through not only due to Cal Lutheran’s size advantage, but also because they could not seem to adjust on both the offensive and defensive ends.
“It defeats you to a point,” Escobar said. “After a while you just have to pick your head up and keep going.”
Freshman goalie Shane Burgess and sophomore goalie Lauren Shepard split the game each with three saves.
The loss gives La Verne a 1-3 record in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and an 8-17 record overall.
“Every loss is motivation for the next game,” Escobar said.
The Leopards are preparing for their upcoming game against Whittier at 11 a.m. Saturday at Las Flores Park, the team hopes to take its loss on Wednesday and use it positively for the rest of the season.
“Each conference game we take what we learned from the team because we might play them in SCIAC, so we learn from each team,” Ross said.
“It’s been a tough year because we have a lot of first year players working with us,” La said. “I’m thankful they have a lot of heart and passion, their effort and heart are always in the right place.”
Playing with a young team takes adjusting, but coach La is hopeful for the Leopards’ upcoming seasons as they have time to gel together more.
“We will be better,” La said.
La Verne next faces Whittier at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Las Flores Park, entering the contest in a three-way tie for fifth place with Whittier and Cal Lutheran.
Krista Franceschini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.