The La Verne men’s soccer team ventured into enemy territory and managed a shutout 3-0 victory against the Caltech Beavers on Wednesday.
This victory follows a loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday, when the Leopards were beaten by the Stags 8-1.
“After the loss to CMS, we were feeling pretty down,” said sophomore defender Jared Taylor. “This win helped our morale and got us back on our feet.”
The Leopards worked hard right at the first whistle, putting pressure on Caltech, playing the ball deep into opposing territory and making sure that the Beavers couldn’t get comfortable.
Their first of three goals came in the 15th minute.
La Verne sophomore forward Abdullah Alharshan capitalized on a controlled bouncing ball and booted it from 25 yards out, giving the Leopards a lead that they did not give up for the rest of the game.
La Verne continued to play heavy offense throughout the first half, not allowing the ball to enter their territory for long.
For the first 45 minutes, the Leopards outshot the Beavers 6-3.
La Verne continued this efficiency throughout the rest of the game, outshooting Caltech 15-10.
“We picked up the offensive game,” Taylor said. “We kicked the ball a lot more in the back(field) and attacked on out own terms. I think that helped out a lot.”
In spite of a heavily offensive game plan, the Leopards did not ignore the defensive aspect of their team.
The La Verne defense allowed only four shots on goal in the entire game, all of which were blocked by junior goalkeeper Jonathyn Lomeli.
Following the first Leopard goal, the rest of the half was scoreless and La Verne lead 1-0 going into the second.
Coming into the second half of the game, La Verne continued to utilize the same tenacity on display in the first half, playing consistently to the Beavers’ weaknesses.
The Leopards found the back of the net once more in the 53rd minute.
Sophomore midfielder Fernando Almejo made a pass to fellow sophomore midfielder Ryan Estrada.
Estrada darted up the middle of the field to make a clean shot from 15 yards out, extending the lead to 2-0 in La Verne’s favor.
“It feels good helping my team out,” Almejo said. “It’s my job to create opportunities and I’m glad that I was able to do that tonight.”
Not content to win by only two points, the Leopards made what ended up being their final goal of the game in the 80th minute.
Junior midfielder Erek Brown broke away from the ensuing Caltech defenders to put the final point on the scoreboard.
La Verne prevented any more scoring for the rest of the game, preserving the shutout final score of 3-0.
Fouls were certainly a pertinent factor throughout the game for both teams.
La Verne accumulated 11 to Caltech’s 16 as well as seven offside calls against the visitors compared to zero for the Beavers.
Many Leopards noted the changes in offense yielding positive effects throughout the game.
“We definitely went out there and had a lot more fun in this game.” said sophomore midfielder and defender Josh Hill. “(After last week) we had to prove that we’re still a good team.”
Almejo also commented on the teams’ previous difficulties against Claremont.
“Every game’s going to be hard and we’re always going to want to do our best,” Almejo said. “This time we really wanted to redeem ourselves.”
La Verne will look to ride the momentum of this win into their next game against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference repeat champion and rival Redlands at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Damien High School.
This will be the final game of the Leopards’ season.
Julian Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.