On senior day Saturday the Leopards lost both of their games at Las Flores Park, with an emotional 10-9 loss to the Whittier Poets and a 12-7 loss to the Vanguard Lions.
Close to 50 fans came to support the Leopards on senior day.
“This day was like the icing on the cake,” senior utility Emerson Gant said.
The first game of the day was an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game against the Poets.
At the end of the first period the Poets led 4-1, junior utility Arturo Villalpando was the only player to score for the Leopards.
In the second period Gant and senior utility Kyle Thorsness were able to put the Leopards back into the game.
Freshman driver Jon Jarvis scored the goal to tie the game against the Poets in the second period.
At halftime the score was tied 5-5 and things were looking up for the Leopards.
The second half became a back and forth battle, but in the end the Poets came out victorious and won 10-9.
Thorsness led all scorers with four goals.
Later on in the afternoon fans were able to see some players that they would not usually see in the game against Vanguard.
The Leopards went deep into their bench and had a heavy rotation of players coming into the game.
The Leopards fell short to the Lions, losing 12-7.
Thorsness led the way offensively against the Lions with four goals.
Villalpando closely followed with two goals of his own.
Freshman goalie Dan Newell collected nine saves and junior Brendon Jones added four as they both shared time between the pipes.
Seniors Gant, Thorsness and two-meter Andrew Mackay, were all honored before the Whittier contest for their contributions to Leopard athletics.
“We’re going to miss all three of these players,” head coach Alex La said. “They bring so much heart and passion every game.”
MacKay is the only senior who has played with La Verne for all four years.
In addition to playing water polo, when MacKay graduates he will have been on the swimming and diving team for four years and will have thrown javelin for the track and field team for three years.
“When Andrew came in he was very inexperienced, but he has made major improvements and he is our leader now,” La said. “We look to him to every game to make big plays and he doesn’t disappoint.”
MacKay is the Leopards’ second leading goal scorer for the season.
“When I first joined the team it was a very small team, and it was amazing to see this team grow,” MacKay said.
Gant is the Leopards’ leader in assists.
“It was a little emotional standing between Kyle and Andrew,” Gant said.
“Emerson keeps people in check, he is a natural leader,” La said.
Parents, friends and fellow students came out to support the seniors during the ceremony.
“All this was definitely a reality check,” Thorsness said.
Thorsness is the Leopards’ offensive playmaker and leading goal scorer for this season.
“Kyle was always a great offensive player, but this year turned into a great defensive player also,” La said.
“Last week against Claremont (Mudd-Scripps) he did not allow the Division III Player of the Year to score, he shut him down.”
La Verne ends their regular season with a 5-23 record and a 2-5 SCIAC record, the same as Whittier and Occidental.
The Leopards own the tie breaker over Occidental due to their win in their SCIAC matchup on Oct. 29 and Whittier due to a higher goal differential over Occidental.
This leaves La Verne with a fifth place finish in the conference regular season and seeded fifth in this weekend’s SCIAC Championships.
La Verne will host the SCIAC Championships, which begins today and ends Sunday, Nov. 13 at Las Flores Park.
La Verne will finish their season at the Western Water Polo Association tournament, which features Division I and III teams, Nov. 17-20 at UC San Diego.
The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Final Four.
Christian Orozco can be reached at email@example.com.